friends

Show Some Friendliness

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Friends…aren’t they a blessing?!  As in the picture above, friends greet one another.  They’re happy to be together and they brighten the countenance and the day of their friend.

But what about that person who just entered your presence and isn’t your friend?  They’re just near you.  They are an outsider.  You don’t know their name, or maybe you met them once but you don’t remember their name.  You feel awkward, so you busy yourself with your head in the bottomless pit of your purse and pretend they aren’t there.  We’ve all felt the need to reach out, and probably also the aversion to it.

Let’s put oursevles in the shoes of the other peson.  She’s new to the situation – maybe at church, Bible study, or a socal gathering, and has “put herself out there” to attend, even though she doesn’t know many that will be there.  She’s trying to act comfortable, looking up at the surroundings, pretending she’s engrossed in her thoughts while people and conversation buzz around her.  She will either leave this gathering happy that she’s gained a new friend, or she will be glad for the safety of her car where she can retreat to the comfort of the familiar, even though it’s also a solitary place.

Proverbs 18:24 – A man that has friends must show himself friendly

We read this command in Proverbs and we may consider ourselves friendly because we conjure up the memories of laughter and constant chatter we had with our current friends just recently.  But I believe that if we’re going to say we’re obeying this verse, we need to realize that this is a constant state of reaching out to others – others whom we bump into in the grocery store, at the ballgame, in our small group or the pew behind us at church.  People need you and me to show friendliness from our heart. How can we do that even if we’re introverts who would rather not be noticed (because this admonition isn’t just for extroverts!)?

  • Look up.  Self-focused people keep their heads down so they can avoid looking at people.  Look in their eyes.  Make eye contact.
  • Smile. A smile is the universal language that says, “I see you.  I’m glad you’re here.”
  • Use words. Get a statement that you can genuinely say when you greet someone you don’t know.  “Hi!  I’m Denise.  Have you visited before?” Or, “Hi!  I’m Denise, and you are? I’m so happy to meet you!”  Get a conversation started by showing interest in them.  You don’t have to grill them, but pull them in.  Talk about how cute her hair cut is, or how adorable her children are, or that you see she’s got a Dunkin donuts coffee cup and you love coffee, too!

    This past Sunday my husband and I were visiting a church in New Hampshire.  A sweet reader of my blog attends that church (unbeknownst to me).  She walked up to us and welcomed us to their church and then told me she reads my blog.  What a sweet way to make a connection!  I didn’t feel as much like a stranger after meeting her (Thank you, Janet!).  That’s the kind of connection we can make even to people we don’t know!

We all like having friends, but we need to stop and really consider if we’re good at being friendly. Reach outside your circle and pull others in and then enjoy the growth of your friendship community!  You will have made someone else sigh because they didn’t have to experience the awkwardness of being on the outside.

Can you relate to the awkwardness of being on the outside?  What do you do to make others feel welcome into your life?

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baking · Crafting · Fall · Family life · friends · Husband · Prayer

Five Friday Favorites

We had our first really cold day of fall this week!  It came just in time for Trunk or Treat at church, making it a fun fall activity!  I made these costumes up for my husband and me.  I thought since he’s my other half, it was perfect!!

Dale and me

Life has been so enriched with these precious little boys in our lives.  They are growing and changing so much!  They’re imitating…

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and learning and rolling and growing…and stealing our hearts!

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Fall also means Pumpkin Roll!  Here was the first one of the year!

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To be a part of a group of praying friends is a HUGE blessing in my life.  These ladies are my prayer group.  We have cried, rejoiced, laughed, and prayed so much in the last couple of years.  Wow.  We are rich, indeed!  We got to celebrate a birthday of one of these precious gals this week.  What a joy to rejoice that she is God’s gift to us as a sister in Christ, a friend, and prayer partner!

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What fun activities have been a part of your week?

Do you have a group of women you pray with?  I’d so encourage you to ask God to give you at least two or three!

Refresh your life this weekend in God’s house!

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Christian Life · Church · Cooking · Encouragement · friends · ministry · obedience

When My Obedience Looked Like Disobedience

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Every week for over a year, I have met with a small group of women  from my church for a time of prayer.   On a week morning we gathered together in our church’s counseling room, chair bumping into chair, and we shared one another’s burdens and we prayed for our church. We prayed for the lost. We praised our God.  We wept together.  We rejoiced when the pleas to God had been answered.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.

But then I had to stop going.

The Lord began tugging at my heart with a burden for the shut-in of our church, for the sick, for the stragglers who visited, then were missing.  I wanted to do something for them that would be helpful and practical.  The Lord brought to my mind the thought of cooking or baking for these folks and periodically taking meals or treats for them to enjoy.  But with an already full schedule,  each day obligated to this or that, how would I ever accomplish this?  I began to pray and seek God’s direction.

One day my husband and I went on a little afternoon excursion away from home.  We had time to sit and talk and share our hearts.  I poured out to him the burden God had given me, and the frustration of not knowing how I could serve others from my home and my kitchen when every day was so full.  God gave him such wisdom and it was so clear to him as he said,

God has given you a burden to use your home to serve Him.  You need to focus your ministry out of our house.  You can pray in our home as well as at church.  Ask others to join you, if they’d like.  You all could pray and then cook together.  It’s what you love to do, and God is the One who has placed that burden on your heart.  Do it!

I felt as though a burden had been lifted off of me, and I knew at that moment that this was exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  But that meant that I could no longer attend the morning prayer meeting at church.  My next thought was, “What will my friends think?  It looks so unspiritual to stop going to prayer meeting!”  But I knew that my not going to this morning prayer time was in obedience to what God was asking me to do.  When I shared this with my prayer group, they rejoiced with me, as I should have known they would!

It’s so easy to think that I have to do it all. It’s easy to put the guilt on myself and worry about what others will think if my obedience looks like disobedience.  But God’s Word says~

The fear of man brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25

I could’ve let my fear keep me at our weekly prayer time (not a bad thing) but I would have missed out on the blessing that this step of obedience has brought!  From the very first morning when I began this new cooking ministry, I had absolute peace that I was obeying God!  My heart was filled with the joy God gives AFTER we obey.  We want it before the obedience, don’t we? After all, it would make it a little easier!  But no, we obey, then God gives joy!

It was truly hard to say “No” to that weekly prayer time in order that I could say “Yes” to this burden of baking, cooking and visiting our church folk. Another wonderful thing is that some of the ladies have been able to join me.  We stop and pray for each person we’re taking a meal to.  We cook and stir up delicious food, and then we deliver it.  It has been wonderful…even if it did start out looking like disobedience!

Do you ever feel like you’re responsible for doing it all?  There’s freedom in listening to God’s directives and obeying Him.  He gave us gifts to use that will never be contrary to His Word.  Are you serving Him in obedience?  There’s no greater joy!

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friends · Mentoring · obedience

Endurance of a Counselor

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I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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Christian Life · friends · Life · Refreshment

Refresh Yourself With Fellowship

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A week or so ago I found myself at a surprise birthday party for a friend.  Because it was a surprise, and everything was “hush-hush!” I had no idea who else had been invited.  I was delighted to find several other good friends were also there.  We were able to sit together and enjoy the fun of some fellowship that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise!  We had a great time celebrating our friend’s birthday AND getting to share an evening together!  It was a reminder to me that we need to schedule those times of encouragement! 
When was the last time you got out and had fellowship with a friend or two?  Women tend to be so busy with life that they seldom make time for fellowship that will encourage and strengthen them as a Christian woman.  We need each other.

I love what Paul says in Philippians 3:17, 18 – ‘

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.  

This is a warning not to fellowship with the wrong people, as well as an encouragement to fellowship with the right people!  Paul is saying, “Walk with people like me and steer clear of someone who will take you down the wrong path!”  This is a reminder to me that we need the influence of strong believers in our lives.  

What a blessing it is to get together with another Christian woman, who loves God, loves His Word, and loves doing the things that will honor the Lord!  Can I encourage you to schedule time to get with a godly friend in the next week?  Share a cup of coffee and talk about what you’re reading in the Word. Share your burdens with one another.  Pray together.  It will refresh your heart and hers!

Be refreshed by a friend,

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Christian Life · Christian love · friends

The Blessing of Friends Who Know God

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Yesterday morning as I read Exodus 33 I was reminded what a blessing it is to have friends who walk with God.  Moses was such a man.  Let me explain.

God’s anger was kindled against the Israelites because of their continual sin and God said that His presence would not go with them into the promise land.  Moses spoke to God on their behalf, telling God that they couldn’t go on unless God would go with them.  Verse 11 says, 

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”  Because of his intercession, God said to Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 

What relief that the Israelites wouldn’t have to trudge on in their own devices, their own weak ideas and strategies!  God answered Moses’ prayer!  Having a friend who can talk to God on your behalf is a huge blessing!  You see Moses going to God, then talking with the Israelites, then talking to God, and again to the Israelites.  Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?!

While I was reading that passage and being reminded of dear, godly friends that the Lord has given me, I received a text message from one of those friends.  Another called while I was getting ready for the day.  A third called as I was driving to do some work at church just to tell me she loved and appreciated me!  And lastly, another godly friend met me at the church to help and support the work I was attempting to do!  My cup was running over with the blessing my friends.  Each one, led by the Lord was calling to encourage or bless in some way.  That is a godly friend!  God spoke to them, and they followed through to tell me what He said to them!  That’s just like what Moses did!

I have to stop and ask myself if I am that kind of friend to others.  How about you?  Do you hear the Lord speak a word to you to call and encourage someone or to stop and pray for them and then you do it?  If He prompts us to stop and pray for them or do a loving act for them are we quick to obey?  Do we go out of our way to help and support them as they are serving the Lord?

May we each be the “Moses-kind of Friends – a friend who knows God, talks to God on behalf of our friends, and also talks to our friends about God!”

Do you have a special godly friend for whom you are especially thankful?  What have they done to push you closer to the Lord?

With love,

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Encouragement · friends · Godly Character Traits

For a Lifeline, Call a Friend

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Did you ever watch “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”?  The contestants answered questions, each one getting progressively harder and taking them closer to a million dollars.  If they were unsure of an answer, one option they had was to call a friend.  This would be a person, who, obviously had lots of knowledge and could be their “lifeline,” helping them reach their hoped-for goal of becoming a millionaire!
It would be quite an honor to be asked to be your friend’s life-line!  That would mean the contestant had full confidence in your ability to give them the correct answer at a very crucial moment!
I recently heard a preacher say that at a time in his life when he had to make a decision about whether or not to accept an important position, he spent many hours in prayer.  He weighed the pros and cons.  He talked with friends and associates and asked their advice.  One night after spending time with godly friends, trying to come to a conclusion about the right decision, he came home and found his wife had already gone to bed.  When he laid down beside her, she rolled over and held up two fingers, signifying that she rated the decision he was going to make only a two.

“That was all I needed to hear.  My wife walks so closely to the Lord, I knew that if this only ranked a two, then the Lord would have me not accept that position.”

Talk about being a life-line! This godly wife was so trusted by her husband in her walk with God, that it altered the course of his life!  His story made me stop and ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Could my husband trust my response to a decision that fully?
  2. Do I walk so closely to the Lord every day that at any given moment I could be asked a question by my husband, my daughter or a friend, and I would give the right answer because it would be God’s answer?
This dear pastor’s wife I mentioned had walked with God.  She’d been faithful to read and study God’s Word.  She’d spent time in prayer.  She was sensitive to His directives in her own life – that’s how she could rightly guide those around her!
It really doesn’t matter that no one has asked me to be their lifeline on a game show.  I’m not that smart!  However, I want to be able to know the Lord’s heart so well that I could be a lifeline to my husband, or to any friend that the Lord brings across my path today.
How about you?  Have you spent sufficient time in God’s Word this morning that even through what you read today you could give biblical counsel?  
Know God so that you can lead others to Him, too!
Psalm 119:1-7
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity:
they walk in his ways.
 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 Then shall I not be ashamed,
when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
With love,