Season, Reason or Lifetime Friends?

Recently I posted this picture on Facebook.friends The private comments I received were quite interesting. Since then I have thought a lot about friendship, friendships that last a lifetime. This is what I am processing…

When I think of my circle of friends I always find myself looking the example I see in the relationships Jesus had while on earth.

He had the multitudes whom he definitely had influence over as He traveled from place to place. He had His followers, those that would often follow Him from town to town to hear Him. There were His twelve, then His three, and some even narrow it down to His one.

I have those who are on the peripheral, those that know me to say hello or who may know my name and face but our relationship doesn’t go beyond that. They know me because we attend the same church, or they have sat in on one of my workshops.

Friends for particular season and reasons: Then there are those who know me because we have spent time with one another over a mutual project, ministry or for a particular crisis or event. We know each other a bit deeper but often it can still be a bit of a surface relationship for once the reason of the relationship is done we have very little contact.

I think along this same line is friendships that develop during certain seasons of our life. For example when my boys were of preschool age I attended a Bible study with other moms where we spent much time together encouraging one another. If it had not be for some of those mothers I don’t know what I would have done. But as we each began making different life choices about how to school our children or what church we would attend and become involved in I found those relationship fell by the wayside.

Even though I have not seen some of these season or reason friends for a long time I still consider them friends. When we run into one another on the street we hug, catch up and encourage one another with a smile. We will even connect from time to time on face book, following along as their lives change and grow.  And if they had a need, a prayer request, I’d like to think I’d be there for them just as they would be for me.

Lifetime friends: Then there are lifetime friends. These friends have been through practically every season with you. They have stood by your side through the good, bad and ugly. These friends often can begin as season/reason friends but they grow to be much more. Two of my lifetime friends came out of the young moms Bible Study, our friendship grew to depths beyond the time in study. Our commonality was more than the season/reason relationship.

Lifetime friendships develop out of a mutual connection of the heart. Just because I have known someone for more than 7 years doesn’t mean we are lifetime friends. A lifetime friend is one to whom your heart is connected. Neither time nor distance can separate you. You have cried over prodigal children, and hard seasons of marriage. You have cried with each other during times of suffering, bearing one another’s burdens, confessed sin and allowed them inside your heart and life.

We may not see eye to eye on everything, and there may be times of hurt feelings, but the relationship is far more important to us than a disagreement. We will talk it out with grace, love and forgiveness.

I do not know about you but my group of lifetime friends is small. In fact I can count them on one hand.  I have known these women anywhere between 7 to 25 years. But it is more than just knowing them for a long time, it is about our level of consistent, intentional involvement in one another’s lives.

So what is my point? I suppose bottom line is that just because you have known someone for more than 7 years it doesn’t mean we are “lifetime” friends. On the other hand we will always be friends. We will always be friends because of the moments we shared, the impact that was made, the season we walked. But lifetime friends go beyond that. They go to a deeper level of the heart and soul and they stay connected throughout the various seasons of life regardless of whether or not you still live in close proximity.

So what do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time know that I begin each new year with a verse and a word or theme for the year. My verse came to me in looking-back-moving_thumb.jpgNovember. In so many ways I was blown away by it. It fit. It was right. It was time. But first, last year God worked in my heart to destroy some idols that had deep roots. God showed me that “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord ’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence” (Ps 24:6)

It was a hard year looking into the heart and seeing those things and people who had become more important that my relationship with God. But mostly I saw that my biggest idol was self and the need to control. So for the largest part of the year God had me study who He is. I mean what better way to destroy the idol of self then to see who God truly is. When we come face to face with the Holiness of His character we have no choice but to bow in humility and surrender all that we are.

So in November when God brought me to Is 61:7 my heart was deeply moved. Isaiah says “Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs.

You see, my life verse is “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted ; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted , To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners ; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…” (Is 61:1-2) So this verse spoke loudly. Not only because I had spent a year looking into the character of God and seeing my utter sinfulness and my enemy often tried to have a field day with pouring shame and humiliation upon my head but God had also used the study of His character to apply deeper balms of healing to my soul.

When God binds up the brokenhearted, frees the prisoner and brings good news to the afflicted we should shout for joy! Somehow I have lost the importance of joy, His joy. God has healed me of my sin, of my abuse, of my afflictions and so much more so instead of shame and humiliation there should be joy.

This is my journey for 2014, to find joy in all life’s circumstances. I was so moved by the fact that Everlasting Joy can be mine that I began a new blog titled Everlasting Joy. I believe this is the beginning of a new season. A season of finding joy in Christ alone. A season of finding joy in all of life’s circumstance because my joy is found in Him alone.

Thank you for joining me. I look forward to this walk with you. Eventually I will move Quiet Reflections over to Everlasting Joy, I think. For I am not sure I can keep up two blogs!

You will make known to me the path of life ; In Your presence is fullness of joy ; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Ps 16:11

 

Photo courtesy of  Stoonn at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

A Christmas Longing

Christmas has been hard this year for me. Deep inside there is an ache, a longing. I remember childhood Christmas’s past filled with lots of family, laughter and love. While we didn’t really have any particular family traditions my mother always tried to make the day about family no matter what was going on or how hard 2013-12-10 09.36.20the season of life was. It’s been 27 years since my mom, sister and brother have been together for Christmas and over 10 years since I’ve spent Christmas together with my mom and sister. I miss them all.

So while my heart may be sad it is also filled with so much joy of the season.

I am blessed that I can spend time with my boys and their family. I can love on my grandchildren and make precious memories with them. I am filled with a heart of joy for my husbands family whom I love deeply. Who still gather at Christmas time to share, laugh and love. They may be my ‘married into family” but in so many ways they are so much more than that. God blessed me far beyond anything I could dream for when he gave me my husband and a family who cherishes one another and has a deep faith in God our Father.

Most of all I reflect on the true meaning of why we celebrate the season. It’s the celebration of a precious baby boy who came to earth so that I might understand my need for God the Father.

I am grateful for a God who loved me so much that He sent His only Son in the form of a baby to earth so that I might know Him. Jesus came to earth in the form of flesh so that we might know His Father in heaven. Jesus came so that we might understand the love of the Father. He came so that we would see out need of a relationship with our Creator God. He came so that He could pay the cost of my sin. He came so that my sins would be forgiven.

So yes, there is a longing in my heart this Christmas for family, for the ideal Christmas celebrations, for traditions but I am reminded of an even greater longing inside the heart of every man, woman, and child. The longing for purpose, for love, for the God who created them.

I am reminded that there are many who will spend this season alone. There will be many who will find the emptiness to be too much and try to end the pain anyway they can. There will be many who will be hungry, cold and without the warmth of any type of celebration.

All this remembering and thinking makes me wonder if I’ve missed the meaning of Christmas all together. What have I done this season to reach out? How have I helped relieve the pain of aloneness? What have I done to show the love of Christ?

If I have missed the meaning of why Christ came and what my response should be what will I do about it now? What will I do tomorrow? Next week? Next year? It’s never too late to share the story of Christmas. It’s never too late to reach out and tell others about the baby that came to save the world.

It’s never too late to show the love of God who came to die for my sins and yours.

Merry Christmas my friends. May we share the joy of Christ’s birth all year long!

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid ; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people ; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 1″This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:10-14

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 Cor 15:1-5

Seasons of Change

 

seasonsChange. It’s apart of life. Change comes whether we desire it or not. There are times we long for it, and yet other times we beg for things to stay the same.

Change can bring heartache, but it can also bring joy.

As I reflect over the last 50 plus years I recount all the seasons of change in my life.

There have been times of Spring when my life seemed to be a time of awakening. A sense of newness. Freshness. I love spring when things that once seemed dead begin to come to life again.

Times of Summer when there was much joy, sunshine and laughter. A time of soaking in all the blessing in my life. The blessings of creating memories with family and friends.

Then there have been times things seemed to begin to die. In the dying I could see such beautiful colors of my life. I think the seasons of autumn are times of great change. Hard changes. Beautiful changes. Those changes that need to be in order to grow.

Nothing though is as hard as the seasons in my life that were dead, cold and bitter. Winter is always the hardest. With very little sunshine, warmth or visible signs of life. These are the times I have felt I would just die. Times when it seemed I was forgotten, alone and left for dead inside.

But what I didn’t know during much of the time spent in winter is that inside, deep inside, everything was growing, changing and preparing to break forth into something new. Something beautiful.

The seasons of our lives come and go. Each one brings changes. As I look back I realize I have survived many changes. I have endured many seasons.

As I sit before the Lord today and reflect over my life I am fully aware that change is coming. Again. The beauty of it is that every season before hand has prepared me for the season I am about to enter. God never takes us through a change without preparing us before hand.

I feel it, God is working and the season is about to change. I wonder, what season we are about to enter? I wonder where we are going? What is God doing?

I have been living through winter and unlike the seasons of the earth life seasons do not always follow a certain order. So I don’t know what season is coming but it matters not, for as I look back I KNOW, that God is always there working in me, changing me, molding me, refining me to be more like Him.

What about you? Think back over the seasons of your life. Do you see God in each of them? Do you see the changes He created? Can you rejoice in each season of change? Even the winters?

Our God is good in all things. He is good to us, His children. When we look for the blessings in each season we also find great joy.