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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hope

How do you define hope?  We were asked that question in our life group class last week.  The answers varied from person to person.  What I noticed most were that a person's answers were often defined by their life experiences.  In Proverbs, the Bible says that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life".  I like that.  Hope is sometimes all that we are left with.  Hope that a cure will come quickly.  Hope that a job will become available. Hope that our children will ______(fill in the blank).  Hope, a small four letter word that can mean so many different things to each person in so many different ways. 

 I know where my hope comes from. I know in Whom I trust.  Without my hope in Jesus, I would have no hope. My husband often says, " this life is so temporary, it is gone in the snap of a finger. And the good news is we win. God has already written the end of the story". 

The world around is always in turmoil. All we have to do is turn on the news and see war, famine, earthquakes, terror, floods, injustice, violence, disease and on and on the list goes.  I believe that if we didn't have hope of survival, hope of rescue, hope of a better day, we would all give up and
our hearts would be sick.  Perhaps you know someone who's heart is sick because they have no hope.
If you have hope, share your hope. If you have no hope, find your hope


1 Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I want to be Mary only I'm so totally Martha.

If you are like me you could be in any one of twenty places right now.   Okay, so maybe that is an exaggeration but you know what I mean.  I had to decide what to do first, write my blog or fold the laundry, fold the laundry or answer my e-mail, answer my e-mail or go visit a friend that could use some cheering up, etc., etc.  I've already mentally prepared my to do list for tomorrow and will write it down before bed time but as soon as I do I will begin the process of thinking about the rest of what I have to get done this week.  It is a never ending tornado of thoughts, to do's, should do's, could do's, want to do's.  I know I'm not alone in this storm because so many of my girlfriends talk about how busy they are and how much they have to do.

So, where is this never ending journey of not being able to manage our time coming from and why can't we seem to win the battle and be done with it?  For me it seems to be that I have a hard time saying no. I want to be like Mary and be able to sit at Jesus feet and just "be".  Although over the years I've gotten much better at saying no and being still, I wouldn't say that I have mastered the art of doing either well.  I still feel guilty when I can't be everything to everyone and fill everyone's needs bucket.  I still feel "less than" when I can't get it all done.  Just ask my poor husband whom I make weary just by his having to watch me flitter around trying to do it all.

Many times I have been able to slow way down and feel really good about  it. I have time to enjoy my Bible study and not rush through it. I have time to sit and have coffee with a friend, snuggle with my husband while watching a movie, have lunch with one of my children and really be present.   But then very slowly the busyness creeps back in, I say yes to more people, yes to more responsibility at work or church or volunteer activities and before I know it I'm right back in the midst of the tornado, spinning out of control.  I'm accomplishing everything that is on the TO DO list but I'm not engaged or enjoying any of it because I am too busy thinking about the next item on the TO DO list.  And then I have to figure out what to let go, who to let down by saying, "I'm sorry but no, that just won't work for me and my family right now."  And then the guilt  kicks in and after I am over the guilt I will be okay for a while, until the process starts over again.

Two weeks ago I went on a trip with my husband and a group from our church on a marriage retreat.  Then this past Friday night I met my husband for a quick overnight stay in New Orleans.  Now, I'm behind on my need to's, supposed to's and should do's.   You guessed it, I'm feeling overwelmed and guilty for not being able to do it all.  And the really hard part and is that it's all really good stuff.  Most all of my list of to do's are things I really care about and things I really want to be able to do, only I can't there just aren't enough hours in the day.

So what about you.  Do you find yourself in this same situation?  Write me and tell me your struggles.  I would love to hear them.

Luke 10:  38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”    41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Transparent Friendship (Blog #3 on Friendship)

The second part of my a blog about friendship is about the transparency required for deep and trusting friendships between women.  

A portion of the definition of transparent is:  free from pretense or deceit : frank b : easily detected or seen through : obvious c : readily understood

Isn't that exactly we are all looking for in our friendships?  I want friends who are free from pretense.  I definitely want friends who are not deceitful.  I want to readily understand my friends and be understood.  So, what do I have to do to have friendships with these qualities and characteristics?  I have to be free from pretense.  I have to do everything I can to avoid deceit. I have to be open and honest in order to be understood and to understand.  If I do these things then I will be considered a good friend. But, if I do these things well and with excellence then I will be considered a great friend.  That is my goal. To be a great friend and to have great friends. 

 As women we long to nurture others and be in community with others.  So why is it so hard for us to make ourselves vulnerable to other women in our friendships?  I would say it is because we've all been hurt by so called friends. We've all had those pretentious relationships.  We've all been deceived by a friend. We've all been misunderstood by a friend.  And therein lies the problem.  Some of us never break through the cycle of deceit, misunderstanding, and pretension.  What started in the sandbox with our kindergarten friendships has followed us into our adult lives. Those seemingly innocent and immature behaviors we displayed back then are present today, we just don't see them as innocent anymore because they aren't.  We know it is wrong to be deceitful, we know it is wrong to be pretentious, and we could really try harder to understand where our female friends are coming from.  Only some of us don't.  Why do you think that is?  Is it insecurity? Is it because we feel like we have to compete?  Is it because we've put a wall up and told ourselves over and over again that we won't ever be hurt again?  I'm sure for some of you, there are reasons I can't even imagine because I've not had your experience. Whatever your reason for not being a great friend, and in turn having great friends, may be unique.   I hope that you will consider the word transparency.  Consider the meaning of transparency. If there is something in your life that you are hiding from your best friends ask yourself why you are hiding it. If you are deceiving your best friends, ask yourself why you are being deceitful.  If you are being pretentious, what is it you are being pretentious about?  Is it worth sabotaging a friendship over? Are you an understanding person or one who finds fault easily?  

I said in my first blog on friendship that I have friendships that are transparent.  I don't have to pretend that I have it all together. I don't have to pretend my marriage, kids, job and Christian walk is perfect.  Because I have friends who are understanding, I am free to share my insecurities and weaknesses without fear of being deceived.  Over time we've developed deep trust and compassion with each other. I want you to have these friendships too.  I don't pretend to have all of the answers and I can't guarantee these steps will work for you. But I do pray that they help you in developing deep, trusting and lasting female friendship.

1. Pray for Godly friendship:   Ask God to give you Godly friends and to give you the ability to be a great friend.
2.  Take it slow:   You wouldn't just walk up to the new girl at the church luncheon and tell her your secrets, so don't expect her to do so either.
3. Find a mentor: Do you know someone who has great female friendships like you are looking for?  Chances are if you asked her she would be willing to share her secrets with you.
4. Be a great friend first: In order to have great friendships you have to first be a good friend.  That means you must be willing to be honest, discrete, loyal, and merciful.
5. Keep limits:  In any great friendship you have to have boundaries.  Just because a friend can't make that lunch date or hasn't called you in a week or two, you can't take it personally.  Remember, our friendships are to enhance our lives not take away from them.  As  adult women we are all busy with our lives.  Our family must come first and a great friend should understand that.   (Read last week's blog about letting God fill those empty places)

 
 

Friday, February 4, 2011

First Things First

There was such an overwhelming response to my blog on friendship last week that I decided I would camp out there for the next few weeks.  I am going to do my best to unpack the truths I've learned about women and friendship. 

As I said last week, I believe that the most important element of my best friendships is each of our relationships to God.  For me, allowing Him to fill all of the voids and not placing expectations on my friends to fill these voids, frees them to just be my friend, not my god. 

My friend Suzanne paints a beautiful picture of what allowing God to fill those voids looks like.  During an especially difficult time in her life she asked God to be so close to her that she wouldn't long for the earthly relationship that was missing in her life.  During that time of prayer and seeking God she says that she would imagine herself standing side by side with God. He reaches around her shoulder and places her in the curve of his side.  Then whichever way He turns she has no choice but to go with Him.  She is totally submitted to His movement and His will.  At the same time she is protected by Him.  I want you to close your eyes and see yourself there in the curve of God's arm.  In that position, totally submitted and protected, God is able to fill up all those empty places you may have.  And we all have them.  Imagine what your need is and submit it to Him.  What is yours?  Do you long for a husband that cherishes you? A child to fill your empty womb?  Or do you have a child and that child has made poor choices that are breaking your heart?  A parent that has disappointed you?  A friend that will be true?  A job, a home,  a cure, a breakthrough?  Let God take whatever your need is and fill it as He stands with His loving arm around you.  Move with Him as He moves. Give in to His guidance, give in to His protection, give in to His love, give in to His comfort.

You see I've learned that only God can fill those empty places.  Even though  I have a great marriage, Danny cannot fill the places that only God is meant to fill.  Even though I have beautiful children, they cannot fill the places that only God is meant to fill.  Even though I have earthly treasures, they cannot fill the places that only God is meant to fill.  My girlfriends cannot fill these places either.  And by not expecting them to, it gives us freedom to just be girlfriends.  I'm not asking them to fill my empty places that they were never meant to fill in the firstplace. 

In John 13:23 we read about the disciple Jesus loved.  Jesus had just washed the discipes feet, all of the disciples were eating a meal with Jesus. In John 13:23 the Bible says: "One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. "  Isn't that beautiful?  I love that word picture. This is the same principle my friend Suzanne talks about.  God wants us to lean in to Him.  To climb up in His lap and let Him love on us.  He is our Abba Father. 

I hope that you will imagine yourself this week in the curve of God's loving arm being guided and protected by Him.  And that when a longing fills your heart that you will allow Him to fill it instead of man (or girlfriend).

Blessings!