Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Suffering and understanding

The last year has been ...well, interesting to say the least.

A year ago October 5th, my mother in law had a minor heart attack. Early the next morning, she suffered 3 consecutive strokes. She remained on life support for some time, was unresponsive and was expected to die. In fact, we had the conversation with the doctor to take her off of life support, or as they call it "withdraw care". That's supposed to make it sound not so final and harsh, I suppose. She pulled through. By the mercy of God and with the help of hundreds of prayer warriors across the country, she lived. She went to rehab, an extended care facility and this spring, she came home.  It's been a long, difficult transition for the family. Especially for my father in law and my twelve year old sister in law. But God continues to aid in her improvement and everyone is adjusting But still, it's rough.

Then I found out on December 20th that our 22 months of trying to conceive had finally worked! Another act of God that was a perfectly timed miracle and sustainer. You know, I'm so glad that he chose to give us Dahlia when he did. She's been a big upper for us this year in the midst of some weird, unwelcomed situations.
Behold, God is my helper; 
                                                 The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. 
Psalm 54:4

In January I lost one of my grandfathers. He was 96.  He suffered a stroke and was in very poor condition for a couple of months. Watching my dad care for him in this sad state was humbling. Feeding him baby food, preparing his meals in a blender, helping him to the bathroom and waking up at all hours to care for him. It was a great exaple of how we are to care for one another, espeically our family. Devastating and humbling.

This spring, my father (my parents divorced when I was 2) told me that he had brain cancer. Little did we know it was the fastest most agressive type of brain cancer. And since his diagnosis he has had multiple episodes of extreme pain, ICU visits, falls, breaks and overall weakness and deterioration. He's in his 50's. It doesn't quite seem right. While our relationship isn't the typical father-daughter relationship, I feel this situation deeply. Something about a parent, the person who gave you life, suffering is very hard to watch.  This past weekend we saw him at my brother's wedding. My step-mom got him from the rehab. He was wheeled down the aisle in his wheel chair. He didn't make it long becuase he was tired and in pain but he made it.  What a bittersweet celebration. He was able to watch his son get married. They were going to get married next year but because of the situation, the moved the date up and were able to celebrate their day with the entire family. He got to meet my daughter for the first time. He just kept kissing her head, calling her "shuggie-toes" and asking to look at her. He kept saying how much he loved us over and over and over. Like it would be the last time..

Last week the world lost one of its sweetest men, my grandpa John. This is my mom's dad. He was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, source unknown, in the spring. After suddenlhy losing his voice and feeling "icky" he went to the doctor. After a long line of mulitple doctor visits a doctor found the cause, a paralyzed voice box due to cancerous masses pushing up on them. He was given the diagnosis on August 26th and on October 3rd he went home to be with the Lord. He suffered. He really suffered.  I saw him 2 weeks before he died and he had deteriorated significantly since the last time I had saw him.  2 weeks later and another visit, I could barely recognize him. He still knew me and called me "beautiful one" when I first got there. But by the end of the visist, he wasn't respoding.  I've never seen suffering like this and I hope I never do again.

I don't understand suffering. I know it's  essential to this life unfortunately. I don't understand the concept of "when it rains, it pours". But I know it to be true. I don't get it. But I know it serves a purpose.
I know to trust in the Lord with all of my heart and not to lean on my understanding. Which is good, because I don't understand.

I'm just a secondary sufferer in all of this. And, as I mentioned, I got a major answer to prayer in the meantime which has been my great sustainer through all of this. I'm not wallowing in sorrow here, I'm just being real with how much it hurts to watch family members suffer. To lose. To not know what the next year will be like. To not be their former selves ever again. It's hard to suffer the loss of a dear one. It's hard to watch your parents suffer the death of their own parents and it makes me not ever want to grow up and watch my parents grow old. It's hard to start the mourning process for someone you know will soon be gone but never knowing when it willl be. It's hard to not only morn a physical death but to mourn the relationship that "should have been" with a parent.
It hurts to watch a 12 year old girl missing her mother that used to be. 

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:8-11

So, I don't understand. And I hurt.
I hurt for the dying. I hurt for the living.

I am reminded how fragile life is not only with all these ailing people but in the tininess and helplessness of my daughter. I am reminded how we are to care for one another at all times, no matter how old we are or where we are in life. No matter how convenient or inconvenient it may be for us.

 It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23

I understand that through one man's suffering the world was made new.
So again, I am reminded that sacrifice of comfort and understanding helps point to the One who restores and heals. We are refined and renewed by this process of suffering and pain. He brings comfort and understanding. But we have to go through it to get to that point, I think.

If you have time watch the sermon excerpt from John Piper that I've posted below.. it gives good perspective on this topic. It speaks to spiritual and physical suffering.
I've watched it and I understand what he is saying.
But I still don't really understand.
But I am praying about that.

I'm also praying for a "better" year for our families in 2012. I'm praying that my daughter is healthy, happy and "normal". BUT I realize we are not entitled to those things. But with His grace, whatever may happen in the coming months, we may not understand but we will be sustained.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Upside-down Joy

I've been thinking lately of how some of the most joyful people I know have seemed to either be coming out of a period of great suffering or are, even more amazingly, in the midst of some great suffering.   Of course, after you have been through a season of hurt, of debasement, of sadness or loss, anything would be better. Any little glimmer would seem like "joy". Not happiness. Joy. But those who are joyful in spite of  their location in life's storms, whether they are just beginning or whether they are in the midst of a real down-pour that shows no sign of letting up, THOSE are the people I am constantly amazed by. I am inspired. I am confused! Because no matter how much I want to say "oh yes, I know what it is to have suffered loss or seasons of extreme sadness and next time, I will show what I have learned by an increase in faith and in joy!", I doubt I will. I hope I will but I doubt that I will have "arrived" in the area of joy in all things (James 2:1-4). I pray I show myself more mature but not for the sake of being better, for the sake of being a renewed creature.
I am not being a Debbie Downer here. I am just being honest. Joy is not my default...YET.
It's something I am asking the Lord to work out in me.

So as I am having all of these introspective thoughts on joy, I picked up my copy of One Thousand Gifts last night. I couldn't sleep. The reason for no sleep? One of my sources of greatest joy, this baby in my belly. Ironic. And I think God was just choosing to reveal himself in my "season of sleeplessness" Ha!  Anyway. I have maybe 40 pages to complete in this book and this is what I read when I resumed reading last night. I hope you are inspired to joyfulness, to take a hard look at your sources of joy and gain a clearer redirected perspective on God's real gifts. The joy of the Lord comes when we lose our rights, our safety, our clarity and our status. To be thankful BEFORE something "bad" happens. To live in a thankful, joyful manner. Live surprised:

Ann writes:

" Is it only when our lives are emptied that we're surprised by how truly full our lives were? Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing- and are filled. This breath! This oak tree! This daisy! This work! This sky! These people! This place, This day! Surprise! C.S. Lewis said he was "surprised by joy".  Perhaps there is no other way to discover joy but as surprise. The way the small live. Every day. Yes, the small even have a biblical nomenclature, Doesn't God call them humble? The humble live surprised. The humble live by joy.. Jesus whispers to the surprised, "God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth" (Matthew 5:5) The humble are laid-low bowed ones, the surprised ones with hands open to receive whatever He gives..

..In the upside-down kingdom of heaven, down is up and up is down, and those who want to ascend higher must descend lower and so "anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:4)."

"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God's gifts are on shelves on beneath the other, and that it is not a questions of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down to get His best gifts." -F. B. Meyer

"To receive God's gifts, to live exalted and joy filled, isn't a function of straining higher, harder, doing more, carrying long the burdens of the super-Pharisees or ultra-saints. Receiving God's gifts is a gentle, simple, movement of stooping lower."*

*{excerpts taken from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; pp. 170-171}

Monday, August 15, 2011

over ME!

I like all the" you's" in this. 
Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Readjusting  present participle of re·ad·just (Verb)

1. Set or adjust (something) again: "I readjusted the rear-view mirror".
2. Adjust or adapt to a changed environment or situation: "she wondered if she could ever become readjusted to this sort of life".

This is what I am doing lately. In every possible area of life. You name it, and that area is being shaken AND stirred. I am neither shaken nor stirred but am kind of sitting back and watching this all happen and am quite ok with it all...I think (which is out of character).  Watching how God, in his divinity, just works...simply, complexly, naturally and perfectly, it's weird, really. Amazing. Consistent. 
Always surprising to me, though!

To my right, as I type, is my framed wedding invitation which reads this common and simple yet profound verse from Ecclesiastes:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1
So. Ready or not, the change is coming. It comes with a purpose. 
Entering new seasons and  letting the old seasons go.
Sometimes the letting go comes with reluctance even though the new season is equally as 
awesome and God ordained. 

Most of the time I hear people say  "this season" in a negative sense. Like the bitter, cold winter that seems like it will never end. And to be honest, usually when I use that Christianese terminology, I  use it in that context too. But now, I see that the season that is passing away and the one that is coming to pass aren't polar opposites, but rather just edited continuations of blessing. That's what's surprising me here.
It does not surprise me that God is good.
It does not surprise me that God is consistent.
I don't know what I am surprised at really.
I just find myself surprised.

It's as simple as this:

God's just readjusting my life, my seasons.
The seasons look the same but that familiar feeling of transition is present and undeniable.
{un}fortunately (I haven't decided which yet) these changes aren't as predictable likes nature's are.
I look forward and I see great possibilities.
And as I  "readjust the review mirror",
I look back and see some amazing blessings.
I am not leaving them behind, they are just following me now. Closely.

He readjusts my perspective.

And maybe I will  "wonder if I can ever readjust to this sort of life"  from time to time.
Who knows.
What I do know is this:
As long as my life has been readjusted: "set, adapted or changed"  by my God,
then there is a purpose. A divine one.
I can rest in it.
I can move joyfully into this new "sort of life".

I will joyfully readjust.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 9

Be thankful.
Gratitude goes a long way.

Thank your friends for their consistency, balance, perspective, kindness and even their differences. You can never go wrong with practicing common courtesy . It doesn't have to be extravagant! A thank you (especially a face to face one) speaks louder than a thousand return gestures. 
Also, a sidenote about thank: Facebook shout outs are nice but a personal handwritten card or letter and even better. An eye to eye conversation expressing thanks will grow your friendship by leaps and bounds in just a minute or two! No longer will it weird to be open and mushy with feelings after you take the time to do that! And what an awesome gift, the gift of gratitude!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 8

This is the next to last day of the friendship series. I think it could possibily go on for eternity. I'm constantly learning new things about relationships and how to be a good friend but I know not all of what I learn will be standard for everyone.  I hope that you have gleaned a little something from these 8 posts. Tomorrow it will be the end of it..until I get very inspired to write this much again. Don't know that I will have the time for it for a couple of months..

This is one I learned the hard way. 

Protect your friendships

I read these verses recently when trying to get focused for this blog:

A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends. 
 Proverbs 16:28

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Protect your friendships against idle conversation. There is a definite difference between just chatting and catching up (which is great!) and pumping one another for information and gossip. It can be fine line sometimes. A line that, once it's crossed, is very hard to back up and uncross!

Here is a very real truth I have learned  the hard way:
If someone talks about peole with you, they will talk with other people about you.
I would like to think I am the exception, but I know better.
So, when in doubt, shut your trap and protect your friends, yourself and most of all your spiritual state. It never ends well when you use others as a topic for conversation. And most times you don't ever really trust that person after they've entertained your gossip or have gossiped to you.  And really, what kind of friendship is it if you don't trust each other?   Yes, I get that there are times when you need a friend to talk to about a certain situation. I needed that just the other day. But I spoke with a person I knew I could trust and tried to keep myself in check with my words. Was I pursuing clarity or banter about an annoying situation? It's hard. So be sure you speak with safe people and keep yourself in check. Talk to God about it first and then seek outside counsel from a very trusted friend if you feel it's necessary.  He's our best relationship counselor! 

Also, when engaging in true friendship, it can get hard. It can get messy. It can even get annoying. But here comes the' b' word again: balance. If it's going to be best for you to take a breather and get some perspective, then take the time. Don't converse with that friend until you feel clear-headed and  ready to approach the friendship in a new way. Taking time is something that is very necessary a lot of times. And if your friend is true, they will value the new attitude and dynamic you have brought to the friendship.
Be real with your friend and nip the gossip train in the bud. Don't let it take off. 
It's so nice to know that when you aren't with someone that your secrets are still safe, your stuff is protected. And I'm sure they appreciate your willingness to uplift and not tear down. It's a Christlike characteristic and that is always a comforting thing in friendship!
Hint: if you can't find something to talk about other than  other's business with a certain friend, you might want to drop her like she's hot or vice versa.  Better safe than sorry. Talk about the weather and go from there. :) See day 2.

Proverbs 20:6 Many will say they are loyal friends,
      but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Sounds like Mr. Proverbs Writer knew what it was like to have had his back bitten one too many times. Poor guy! All friendships are worth protecting. Even the  aquaintance-ish ones. Back your friends up! Be reliable. Be the positive friend. Fight for optimism.. the list goes on.

If you need some help on this one, read the gospels. Jesus was so amazing at calling people out on their crap and building others up when he had plenty of reasons to be annoyed and vent about his frustrations with others.

 "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Matthew 12:34-37

Go, Jesus! He's a straight shooter !
And Yikes.
The topic is a heavy one..our words.

So, let's be careful. Especially if you like to talk a lot. Think before you speak.

Protect one another.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 7

Expectations result in disappointment
Yeah. this is one that's a bit tricky because we all want to feel appreciated and valued in our friendships.
Step one, don't take every thing your friend doesn't do personally. If you do, it's a big sign of co-dependency. And no relationships ever thrive when co-dependency is present. Step 2. Be gracious abounding in mercy.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  Psalm 145:8

This is the thing: when reality and expectatins don't align, disappointment results. I'm not a fan of setting the bar low. That's silly. But I do believe that the "bar" whatever that is, is different for everyone. And I am sort of leaning towards getting rid of the bar all together.
 So expecting to get something in return for showing yourself friendly is kind of an oxymoron.  

THe biblical principle is if you want friends, you need to show others what a true friend is, be one! But I don't think that necessarily means you will automatically make friends. But inevitably, a friendly person is probably going to have friendly friends. NO need to over complicate this.
Doing something for someone with the expectation of getting a return gesture, you'll probably get a big bag of disappointment in stead.  If you get a return gesture, awesome!!  But if you don't, don't give up on the friendship. Don't stop pursuing or get frustrated and bitter. I just think of all the times people have probably done something awesome for me and I dropped the ball in some fashion. There have been specific instances when I knew that I had sucked it up. (Darn it!) Then, there have been times when I didn't know about it and..well, I still don't know about it. But I'm human. I try, though, to be aware and intentional in my relationships. Chances are though, if they did it "to be nice", they did it to be nice. Take it as that. 
Don't look into it.
Be thankful! What a treasure it is to have friends that do things "just because".  
HEre is some professional opinion on expectations in relationships:

"Some disappointments are actually predictable and preventable. Others are totally unavoidable. It is important to differentiate between the two so that you can respond appropriately.
Repeated disappointment may be the result of a pattern of faulty or irrational thinking. If you are frequently disappointed, evaluate what you are thinking and try to change faulty thinking patterns."

I think that's good counsel! In ANY relationship, it's good to practice introsopective inventory.
So, in short, don't over complicate it. 

Just. Be. A. Friend.

Review time: Initiate friendship, embrace differences, seek balance, fight for the positive,value those you love, be consistent, be real. That's simple enough. Expecting yourself or anyone else to do more is a set up for disappointment.. Keep it simple! 
And keep loving on others! You can't never go wrong with love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 6

Week 2..
I guess I had more to say, then I thought. More than 5 days worth, it seems.
It's another double post!

Real or Bust, Embrace Vulnerability
This is the one that would be classified as the hardest thing for me. I'm a pretty real person but when it comes to true vulnerability, it's something I continue to work on. I think I'm getting better though.  How vulnerable you are with people boils down to this: self esteem. If you have never really had a "safe" person to freely talk with on your good, bad or ugly days, this one can take some real work. If you've come from a family who was uncomfortable or unhealthy with display of emotions, this one can seem really daunting. But let me tell you, IT'S WORTH IT! 
I'm a crier. I cry. It's really not a bad thing. I just feel deeply. Which means I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm hurt, I cry when I'm mad. Sounds precious put in a rhymie way like that but to most people, when they see the waterworks, they either try to fix or flee! And that's been a hard thing for me. Accepting that, at the worst, if I am real (with my tears)  someone might just try to tell me "oh, you are just emotional because you are hormonal" or   just quit responding and grow silent and perhaps not talk to me for a while. It can be awkward so usually I just don't let that part of myself show. People show vulnerability in different ways, some are easier to handle than others.
lots of talking, life story telling, detail giving, emotion showing (that's the hardest one, I think), advice asking...  If you are afraid of vulnerability, don't be. Easier said than done, I know, for real.  There are few people that I feel comfy letting it all hang out with, the good and the bad. The great, lasting, amazing friendships I have are mutally vulnerable ones. It took time.  So don't go rushing into asking your new pal "what was the worst childhood experience you ever had" or making them a list of 50 things you love about them when you've known them for a few weeks. That can be a bit overwhelming for most. Ususally, it takes you being the person to show vulnerability first. If we are all a little less afraid and being real with who we are, then what a genuine world this could be! 

An easy, eh sort of not really, way to get vulnerable is this:
Don't be afraid to ask the important questions

And don't be scared of hearing the real answers.  A lot is to be said for those people in your life who are reflecting and thinking enough about your life to ask questions. Good questions show that you are being thought of. Who doesn't like to know that they have been in someone's thoughts? 
And following up, that's like a bonus deal. Having told someone something once then them asking you about it days, weeks etc. later shows a great deal of consideration. It shows an other's centered mindset which is extremely Christlike and comforting. Those friends that I have that care enough to ask the questions like "how is your walk with Christ?", "How are you doing with that personal struggle  you shared with me last week?" are the ones  I know aren't trapped in the bubble of self-centeredness. They care and that is one of many ways to show it. If you are the friend asking these questions and the other friend says", I 'd rather not talk about it" or maybe they don't open up as much as you thought they would, don't take it personally. Sometimes, no matter how real you are, some people just aren't there yet. If that's the case, keep being consistent.
Remember? That counts for a lot! 
And if you feel that you are the one who is doing much of the initiating, maybe back off for a time and give them space. I don't recall every being offended at someone following up with me about something or asking a deeper question. If anything, it showed me that I was important to them. And that always feels good.

Ah, relationships. Friendships. There is a lot to be said on how to make them work and how to be "good" at it. It's different for everyone and there is no set method of how to do it. Just be yourself. Be real. Invest, be consistent and
 Love others as you love yourself..
Mark 12:31

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 5

Today is a double post day.
Aren't you excited?
I realized after writing all of these I had about a million (or 8) posts and so I'm consolidating a bit.
These two kind of go hand in hand.

Consistency goes a long way
You don't always have to have the right words, do grand gestures or be the "super friend".  A bit of onsistency goes a long way and speaks volumes. One who is constant, one who is faithful, one who is unwaivering in commitment to making friendship work (yes it takes work!), that one is a diamond in the rough. 
note: I'm not talking about being consistently  inconsistent :) just wanted to make that really clear! 

Consistent friendships are generally the ones that last a lifetime and not just for a season. They don't usually go through times of not speaking, major disconnection or growing apart. They tend to be the "easy friendships". Again, balance in everything is important. Whether it's a old deep friendship or a new one, you can never be too consistent. 

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.  ~Anäis Nin

Value the easy friendships
Find respite and live it up in these simple yet deep friendships.
I have maybe 2-3 of these kinds of friends.
These are the ones that when I met them, it was like discovering a twin, a kindred spirit. 
They are the Dianas to my Anne Shirley. It's kind of like this:

After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.  From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home.  And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. 1 Samuel 18:1-3

If you have this type of friend, thank God and them today.
If not, hold on, keep praying for a kindred heart to match yours and when you find that person, treasure them! 

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.  Before him I may think aloud.  I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal, that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another.  
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 4

Fight for Optimism
Let's be honest- nobody likes to be with someone who is constantly complaining. Constantly venting. Constantly ungrateful or just in the dumps. I've been that friend before. I've had a lot of those friends before. YES! we all need the friends who stick with up during those seasons of brattyness or of confusion and sadness. I will never discount a friend who is persistent in getting out of the "hard places" in life. Sometimes it's just really hard to get out if it! However, if it turns out to be more than a brief period of negativity and you find your own personal morale heading south every time you talk with this person, don't be afraid to put some distance between you. Draw a boundary! They are oh-so-healthy!  Sitting around and commiserating = not healthy. Sitting around and pointing out the negatives in a situation or another person = not healthy. So seeking balanced friends who bring out the best in you= healthy. 

From experience, I've had some pretty intense Negative Nancies around and I found myself  being more and more negative, sad, annoyed and just, well..nasty to be around. Granted, we are all going to have our days where we are the negative friend. We will be walking through times of despair or confusion. We need the aid of a focused friend with fresh perspective to confide in.   Thank God for friends who are patient, loving, who pray with us and stick with us through these moments and seasons! But realize this:  if negativity has become a way of life for you, you assume the worse and see the down side of everything, chances are  you might also find yourself  lonely and without company. Seeking to be lifted out of the mental, emotional and spiritual mire that comes with bad times is different than sinking in and wallowing in the mud of despair. Know that it is a fine line. Seek counsel, prayer and move on out of it, sister! Otherwise, you just put a force field of "blah" between you and others. And that's not fun to deal with.

 Now, for the people who tend to be the positive person, hang in there. Hopefully you are surrounded by others who keep their negativeness to a minimum and are counting their blessings purely for counting blessings sake. Continue to be filling your heart and mind with scripture to take your own thoughts captive, to know truth to combat the lies that our enemy so often projects into our minds.Very often, our enemy does it through those we love the most which has always baffled me but it makes PERFECT sense.  Surround yourself with other positive people. If you find yourself having a hard day, ask for prayer. I think when someone chooses to be vulnerable enough to say they are having a hard time but show that they want to get out of that hard place, it's very respectable. Being positive keeps up on our guard so that when we are approached with a problem or a situation with a friend, we are more clear and true in our thought processes and can better lead them to Truth.

 I know I've had a lot of hard spiritual, mental, emotional battles that took a while to fight. Those who stood beside me and supported me were a God-send. Keep loving on your friend, if that is the case. Hold her hands up.  Find another friend to share the burden with too. We all need faithful, positive friends to hold us up during intense battle with our enemy!
For example..

Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses' hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.  Exodus 17:10-13

Now, I'm not saying you always have to be on your a-game and are never justified in breaking down but I am saying this, if it's a trend where you are always up and down, more negative days than not, find someone to talk with about this, pray for mental and emotional redirection and renewing in this area and  find the friends that will hold your hands up and keep you accountable during this battle for optimism. Then: FIGHT!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 3

Be OK With Balance
As with anything, balance is best.  But what do I mean by balanced friendship?
Let me explain:
A friendship that both of you get to talk equally. Not one person dominates more than the other. You both are asking questions, answering questions. You aren't demanding all of the persons time to consider it a good friendship, they don't expect you to drop everything for them. Seeing them every day for a week straight may not be healthy for both of you so learn to balance your together time with your apart time and you will learn to value both! Chances are, your friends will have other friends. That's normal. If not, then there could be reasons for that :)
Don't get territorial. That's a sign of co-dependency.  And that is a slippery slope fo' sho'I talk about codependency a lot becuase I am an ex codependent. It was a hard thing to break out of! But with lots of prayer and counseling, I am achieving balance in that area. It's freeeeeeeing! Yay! 
 If you don't sense a balance in a certain friendship then re-evaluate, pray about it, take some time and see if it's something you can work on. If not, this might not be the time to pursue this friendship. Healthy relationships are what we want! A friend who initiates once in a while, who celebrates your differences  and seeks balance, that's a friend to hold onto!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 2

Embracing Differences
Chances are, unlike high school, most of the people you will hang around with will not be just exactly like you. And that's ok. In fact, I think it's preferrable that way! What a multifaceted person you become when you hang out with a diverse group of friends. Differences are what make things interesting. I guess, for some, the struggle comes with not knowing what to discuss or not being able to settle on what to do that is mutally fun for both. Maybe you feel like you have to convince them to believe just as you do in order to be really good friends.
"Be careful, when you become so attached to your own opinions of what is right, that it prevents you from: Seeing another’s point of view… Imagining what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes… Considering other possibilities and ideas." 
Finding common ground is fun, I think.  For some, it's pretty frustrating and they give up.
Do you know how much you have to talk with someone to find those things out? Sometimes it's not long but most times, you have to talk for a while to find out what you could both find equally exciting to talk about, go do, or experience.  In doing so, I think that that's where the bulk of friendship is formed. So, even if you don't ever find something to do that you both like, you have learned to enjoy each other's company and conversation. Ding! Friendship formed. And more than having a friend who is the same as you, you now have a friend that you can talk to. A friend you can talk to I mean, really talk to, is such a treasure.  When you learn to see things a different way, you get a chance to walk in someone else's shoes  and that's way better than being able to share shoes. Promise.

Read my other blog, Misinterpretations for the full explanation about the friendship series!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 1

Today I start a series on friendship.
I explained it at length on my other blog, Misinterpretations. Check it out if you want to know the extended reason for the series!
Here's a blip:
"Friendship is a topic that is very dear to my heart because I love my friends. (that's simple enough). They are essential to my life. I was created to be in healthy relationships with people and I crave that... I will be sharing some of my opinions about friendship, some of my own personal struggles and learned lessons. I am not a psychologist. I am not a friendship guru. I am just someone who loves real relationships and craves to know my God better through them"

So here we go!

Ah! What an awkward word this can be. For some, it's an adventurous word. Truth: Some people are just naturally better at going out of their way to pursue a friendship or intiate hang out time. Whether you are good at it or not, that doesn't really matter. If you care about a friendship it's essential. One person can tend to do most of the intiating which is normal but it can be a bit tiring. If you aren't being reciprocated on in a friendship it could mean a couple of things. Either a.) the person is awkward at it and may even be clueless as to how to be a friend like this. b.) they could be quite self-centered. Ouch. No one likes to hear that though. Although it is many times  or. c.) maybe they have excuses for not initiating, such as, "I shouldn't have to, friendship should come naturally" or something more like " I don't like the person, therefore I don't initiate"  Touche! In that case, move on ;o)
This  "initiating" can be a tricky topic. Very tricky indeed.  
The Bible says this:

 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luke 6:31

 So, if you don't have [m]any, or are lacking in quality, maybe take an evaluation of what you are doing on your end to pursue relationship. Fear of rejection can be a powerful and stifling thing. Don't let it keep you from some of the amazing kindred experiences there may be out there in friendship land.
Yeah, there are those simple friendships that are easy. The ones where you instantly feel like you found part of yourself in another person  which is always comforting and easy.  It's not common though (we'll talk about those on another day). Most friendships take work.  Pursuing others who aren't just like you is great!.

 Initiate (and reciprocate!) even if it's awkward at first. Even if your efforts run into a dead end with some people, you'll find your rhythm.  Invite them to coffee, dinner. Compliment them. Encourage them Go shopping with them. Keep it simple.  
Those who have initiated friendship with me, are some of my favorite people. It speaks to their character..they are consistent, persistent. I love that in a friend!

So: "don't hate, initiate!" It's my new friendship mantra..

Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things.  ~Author Unknown