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How God Leads You To Friends

mary-and-elizabeth-rejoicingSo often we read the story of Mary and Elizabeth through the perspective of the birth of Christ, but when you look at it through the perspective of friendship, there is more to see — and I’m excited to see what this exceptional group sees.

Have you ever had the sense that God was leading you to a friend? When you begin to suspect that God is involved, it makes you pause, wondering, Why? What purpose is there here? That’s what He did with Mary and Elizabeth. I love this scene from The Nativity where Mary and Elizabeth are rejoicing in what God has done. Two women who were blessed with miraculous pregnancies were also going to face enormous pain — God knew it, and used them to strengthen one another for the hard road ahead.

Ice-breaker:

Share a time when the Lord led you to a friend. What made you think He was involved? Looking back, what purposes might He have had in mind?

Read Luke 1:5-7

A. Elizabeth was “blameless.” Since no one is without sin, what would it mean to walk blamelessly?

B. Many translations say she was “blameless and barren.” What do you learn about God and about life from

seeing those two words together?

C. In that society, it was a shame and a disappointment to be barren. It might have been hard for Elizabeth to

understand why God was allowing this — yet she obviously trusted. How would this “wilderness”

particularly  equip her to mentor Mary?

D. What rough waters have you made it through that might equip you to mentor others?  Be alert — is there anyone who comes to mind who might be in the midst of those same rough waters?

2. Zechariah was a godly man, yet, as is true of many left-brained males, he had trouble immediately believing Gabriel. This did not add up.

A. Describe the dialogue and everything you discover in Luke 1:12 to 1:20. What do you think about Zechariah

asking for a sign? Why is Gabriel shocked?

B. Skip ahead and look at Zechariah’s song when God loosed his tongue in Luke 1:67-80. What does this tell

you  about how he responded to the Lord’s chastisement?

C. Research corroborates that women’s intuition may very well be a gift based on their global brain functions,

whereas many men think primarily with the left logical side.  What are the advantages of

each kind of thinking? Why does this also show that women need women?

D. Research shows that married women with close women friends have stronger marriages than women who

expect their husbands to be all things to them. If you are married, has that been true for you?

E. The Scripture also says that God sets the solitary in families. What advantages are there for both married

women and single women to have friendships together? What sensitivities are needed?

3. Read Luke 1:28-38

A. What similarities and differences from Zechariah do you see in Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke 1:28-38?

B. Mary doesn’t ask for a sign, yet Gabriel gives her one. What is it?

C. Why would this propel her to Elizabeth’s home? (Extra credit 🙂  How far did she walk?)

D. Think about a time when something propelled you into a friendship — and then you realized God was behind

it. Share.

4. Being led in friendship is all about hearing the still small voice of God and acting on it. The worldly way of making friends is by looking for someone who is like you, who may be useful to you. While it is not wrong to enjoy similar interests, we absolutely need to be open to all kinds of people. Evaluate your friendships from God’s perspective. What do you see?

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126 comments

  1. Oh Dee, I love this study so much, as it is sharpening me alot.
    I have to skip over the Ice-breaker as I’m praying through something that I haven’t shared with anyone here about my life and this question would bring that up.

    A. Elizabeth was one of the closest people on earth as far as being like Jesus that there was. She walked almost as blameless as Jesus did, only no one can really do that. I think that is what it would mean to walk blamelessly.

    B. The two words “Blameless and Barren” say to me that you can be very religious and almost perfect in your walk with the Lord, but still go through very difficult times in your life and it does not mean that you have done anything wrong.
    It may just mean that we need to wait upon him. He knows the whole picture and we do not. Just know how much he loves us and that he is in controll and knows best.

    C. Elizabeth trusted the Lord in her being barren. Her “wilderness” would equip her to mentor Mary because of the trials she went through. This made her stronger….”For when I am weak, then I am strong”.(2 corinthians 12:10) And it is SO TRUE!, because you do become stronger when you are weakened so terribly through trials.

  2. Icebreaker

    There are two friends in my life that I met back in 1998. I was perusing the womens ministry brochure at my church, deciding which Bible study to take that fall. I decided upon “Let’s Be Wives Who Please God”. The leader, Aneta, was a godly older woman.
    It turns out her class wasn’t just about being a godly wife.
    She started us out with the foundation of salvation.
    I had just come out of a different denomination and this was a solid beginning for me. We still keep in touch, and it was Aneta, just this past spring, who exhorted me to step up to the plate and call my pastor and put my faith into action with regards to helping my dad.
    She is a rare woman who truly loves women and does not get caught up in pettiness; she always cuts right through the circumstances to the heart of the matter. She will exhort in love, and speak the truth in love. Honestly, when you look in her eyes, you see Jesus.

    There was a woman in this class, Linda, whom I never really talked to during the several months of the study (it was a large class), but at the end, Aneta held a banquet for us, and I was seated next to Linda. Today she is my closest friend. We can tell each other anything. It was her church that has the prayer nights where I went to pray for my mom and dad this summer, and where I took my dad one evening for prayer. It was through her that I met Wade, the man who has since passed away from cancer, who was the one who started the Tuesday evening prayer and who prayed for my dad and his meeting with my pastor, for his salvation, for his protection. Dad got to meet Wade just before he died.
    Linda is a rare friend who I can be real with. No masks!

  3. Ice breaker:
    I met my friend Ruth many years ago when her family came to my church. We spoke regularly but never really got to know each other. They moved on to another church and some years later we worked together for a time and it seemed that God just knit us together. We have been friends ever since. We often comment that while the time worked together seems like a waste, we came out of it with a solid friendship. In the busyness of life we purposely make time to get together.

    This morning I have been celebrating God’s faithfulness. I was led to Psalm 89 and I wrote a poem. It is not that good but expresses God’s faithfulness and is also a riddle. How easy or difficult do you think the riddle is?

    Ode to His Faithfulness

    The prodigal runs
    Far from You he thinks to be
    Only Your gifts are sweet to him
    How lost he appears to me
    But look!
    Shining in the sun
    Billowing, floating on the breeze
    Stretching as he runs
    The cords of love
    Love of the Father
    That never lets go

    1. Anne, That is beautiful. It isn’t difficult, but a beautiful description of the scene. I could picture it quite clearly. I didn’t know you could write so well!

    2. Very cool. . . & I can visualize it too!

      1. It is just how God sometimes speaks to me, assuring me when I fret that He has the situation in hand and that His working out of a thing is every bit as beautiful as the part of creation I am looking at.

  4. Icebreaker:

    God gave me the most awesome surprise during an extended desert time in my life. I must include that part of the reason I had that desert time was because of the lack of fire for Christ in the women’s hearts I was around for so many years. I don’t say that with a critical spirit. It was what it was and God is teaching me as a result of that how much we really do need one another spiritually. I guess I fell into a depression for a few years thinking there was no more fire out there. Kind of stupid to think that way but it happened.

    Two or three years ago during this time of depression God knew what I needed and he brought along Sondra. Beautiful on the inside and out-her eyes gleamed and it was obvious that she was one who had been in the presence of Jesus. 🙂

    I hate talking about singing too much because it can come off not the right way, but it is a ministry God has given me and that is how we met. She liked it when I sang. (Not my voice like I am a great singer or anything, but she sensed the Lord working through the songs and THAT is what I longed to hear, not whether or not she liked my voice or the songs.)

    Anyway, she wanted to know when I was singing and that is how God weaved our lives together.

    I know God sent her to me simply because our relationship is TOTALLY focused on spirtiual things. I have other women friends God has given me where there is some spiritual encouragement and we just enjoy going out and doing things together.

    Sondra is different, she challenges me, she goes into deep waters. Our friendship is deeper spiritually but like i said we are close but not like ‘best friends’ excluding others kind of cliquish thing. We are both busy with family but God put her in my life for a specific purpose, “TO FAN HIS FLAMES IN MY HEART AGAIN.” She continues to lift me up and challenge me as well.

    She invited me to a “Community Bible Study” or CBS to sing where she was one of the ones leading it in our community. She also did the lectures/teaching at the end and believe me, EVERYONE looked forward to when she did the lectures. She has such a gift from God in this area. The study we did was in Genesis.

    Anyway, I was in her core small group and we really got to know one another in this group.

    Looking back I see why God put her in my path and how he used it in my life.

    I can attest that even though going into depression can be around the corner at any time since I think I tend to lean toward that anyway, God has turned it around for me TOTALLY. I am NOT saying people shouldn’t be on meds. I think there is a time for that, but for me I can relate to David when he went through anxiety and depression as he ran from Saul for what was it, 10 years?

    Sondra has no clue how God used her in my life to lift me up and turn my face toward Him. Well, she does know. I forgot I sent her a card. Anyway, that is my story and I am thinking if Sondra has time she might be able to give her perspective on it.

    1. I think it’s fine that you talk about singing 🙂 and you have good YouTube songs!!

      1. Renee, Thanks for the sweet words! ♥

  5. My family is under attack from the enemy. I know God will use it all for good, particularly in bringing Al back to Him. I spent yesterday evening in deep prayer for him. I see no breakthrough yet and the attack grows. Would all of you please pray also as you feel led? Thank you so much. You are all so precious to me.

    1. Anne, I will do that..

      1. I will too

    2. I’m praying now

    3. Dear Christ,

      Please be with Anne and her family. Bring all of them close to Your Heart and please use Your mighty power that raised You from the dead in their lives!

      In Your Name, Christ,
      Amen.

      1. Thanks so much to all of you!

        1. Anne, prayed for you, and then again and again.. God woke me up at 1:00 a.m. this morning to pray. He did it through my eldest who got up and got some water. I am a very light sleeper. 🙂

  6. Praying for you Anne..

  7. Icebreaker:

    I met my friend in 1978. We met in Hawaii, we were both doing a Discipleship Training Course with Youth With A Mission. I was 20 and single at the time and just recently had come to know the Lord. My friend was 30, married with 2 kids and had been a Christian since she was a little girl. We met during one of the lectures, we were sitting next to each other and the speaker had everyone introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them! 🙂 The Lord right from the start put this friend in my path.

    We grew to become great friends. I can see the Lord’s hand in that, I know especially for me. I had come from a physically and emotionally abusive background, and my friend also had experienced that with her father and she was like the best Christian I had ever met. She loved God with all her heart, it was reflected in her actions. God used her in my life as a model of what a Christian was. I think Rebecca mentioned this also with her friend – but it was like seeing Jesus in the flesh.

  8. Icebreaker Question:

    I met my friend Jeanne in choir shortly after I joined the church I belong to in 1991. She’s a few years older than my parents, so one would think there’d be more differences between us because of age, but we have quite a bit in common. We didn’t get to be really close friends until I started college and she asked me to have lunch with her during my first week. (She worked at the college at that time.) One meeting for lunch turned into many, many more and a beautiful, blessed friendship. She is the one friend I feel I can tell nearly anything and I share her confidences as well. We are true prayer partners and communicate often even though my health has not allowed me much, if any, interaction with people for years. I am so thankful for her. God brought us together so that we would each have a true, lifelong friend.

  9. Read Luke 1:5-7

    A. Elizabeth was “blameless.” Since no one is without sin, what would it mean to walk blamelessly?

    She followed God and His laws with her whole heart and sought to please Him.

    B. Many translations say she was “blameless and barren.” What do you learn about God and about life from seeing those two words together?

    It reminds me of other people in the Bible who lived for God yet had troubles — David, Job, Christ.

    C. In that society, it was a shame and a disappointment to be barren. It might have been hard for Elizabeth to understand why God was allowing this — yet she obviously trusted. How would this “wilderness”
    particularly equip her to mentor Mary?

    Mary, being unmarried and pregnant, would also face public shame as people did not understand that she was carrying the Son of God. Elizabeth had dealt with society’s criticism for years and knew what Mary was facing.

    D. What rough waters have you made it through that might equip you to mentor others? Be alert — is there anyone who comes to mind who might be in the midst of those same rough waters?

    I have been (and still am) too critical of myself and legalistic, but freed by realizing God’s grace. This study has helped me a lot with that. I hope I can help others who have this same problem. The isolation due to my health is also something God may work into helping someone else in the future. I currently don’t know anyone going through the same thing but I trust God to use it for good.

  10. Oh Dee, For months, I’ve thought about your upcoming speaking in Willmar. Both the place and date are so close (and I even got out of a work responsibility this weekend), but family obligations have changed dramatically in the past several weeks. I am disappointed that I most likely won’t make it, but very thankful for irreplaceable service opportunities during the next week.

    Ice-breaker:
    Share a time when the Lord led you to a friend. What made you think He was involved? Looking back, what purposes might He have had in mind?

    I read this on my new techy cell phone last night, and then again this morning on the computer. The question was hard for me, so I avoided it. Still not sure how to answer. Seems as if my life has been either feast or famine regarding Christian friends. For awhile God led MANY friends into my life; because there were SO many, I very rarely examined God’s involvement in individual friendships. Right now, I’m very grateful for long-term friends, even though they don’t live near me. When I first moved here, I prayed for Christian friends and was more outgoing — eventually gave up. But I’ve had close Christian friends for short periods of time during recent years (1 died, another moved), and I’m in periodic contact with other friends.

    Now I’m pondering about God’s leading in terms of lack of friendships during the last 12-15 years?? When I first moved here, I was warned by someone who had moved here several years earlier that I wouldn’t have close friends here (what a welcome, huh??). With the exception of friendships I’ve developed at work, that prediction has been true. I know God has strengthened some family relationships during this time, and caregiving responsibilities have prevented me from being a social butterfly. Perhaps I’m just VERY slow at learning to depend on God and find my security in Him rather than having my identity based in friendships. This is encouraging because God certainly could have provided longer-term friendships when I was praying and looking for friendships. Since He leads us to some friendships, maybe He either was (is) protecting me from other relationships or teaching me to focus more on Him. ANYONE HAVE ANY GOOD ANSWERS??? I’m stumped about my current situation, because I have some amazing long-term friendships across the country (but we aren’t in frequent contact). It’s not as if I don’t know people, but that “clicking” that used to be so frequent is rare now(except when I travel).

    Read Luke 1:5-7

    A. Elizabeth was “blameless.” Since no one is without sin, what would it mean to walk blamelessly?

    Shortly before Zechariah and Elizabeth were described as blameless, they were described as “righteous before God.” This reminded me of Hebrews 11, where all these OT people were counted as righteous because of their faith. At that point Elizabeth would have been in the same boat (sorry, not into thinking thoroughly and clearly right now)

    B. Many translations say she was “blameless and barren.” What do you learn about God and about life from seeing those two words together?
    -that righteous people suffer
    -that we can’t conclude that suffering is punishment for wrong-doing.

    C. In that society, it was a shame and a disappointment to be barren. It might have been hard for Elizabeth to understand why God was allowing this — yet she obviously trusted. How would this “wilderness” particularly equip her to mentor Mary?
    Elizabeth likely had been the recipient of discrimination and inaccurate assumptions due to her “reproductive situation.” People also made inaccurate assumptions about Mary’s behavior. Plus, both had highly unusual pregnancies. Elizabeth understood what it was like to be the victim of false accusations, but she still remained faithful to God

    1. Good answer for A Renee.

    2. And I like your answer for B. It’s concise and says it all!

      1. Tracy, I had to look back and see what I wrote! I see that I didn’t answer the part of the question: “What do you learn about God?” 🙂 My answer is that He’s in control & beyond my understanding. . .

    3. Renee, I can relate in regard to the feast and famine thing with friends. I had a huge culture shock when we moved from Missouri to Kansas. Not all of Kansas but primarily the county I live in is kind of materialistic and snooty. There is a lot of money here and I am not sure that that is the reason why, but it is very hard to get beneath the surface with some believers.. Hard to explain.

  11. I forgot about another answer to the icebreaker. I’ll try to be brief.

    I was saved as a child but did not grow in my faith and in Middle School got involved with the wrong crowd. In High School I made an attempt at coming back to the Lord, and then again as a young adult. It was not until I was in my late 20’s that I made any lasting progress in my walk with the Lord. It has only been in recent years that I realized that what made the difference for me was a friend who discipled me. Her husband was in seminary in Wake Forest and we got together regularly until he graduated and she moved away. Wow. I wonder if I could do that? Has anyone ever been that kind of friend? I was in a Sunday School class that she taught but outside of that she did not do any formal teaching although I learned a lot of spiritual things from her.

  12. Read Luke 1:5-7

    A. Elizabeth was “blameless.” Since no one is without sin, what would it mean to walk blamelessly?

    * First of all to be His, to revere Him and to be one who trusts Him-A person of deep faith. People of faith struggle with their sin nature mind you, but instead of cleaving to it, in the end they cleave to God..ultimately their faith prevails.

    B. Many translations say she was “blameless and barren.” What do you learn about God and about life from seeing those two words together?

    * That believers suffer, yet in the end God uses it to grow their faith, but they have to have a humble and teachable spirit. It reminds me too, as Tracy said, of David, Job and Jesus.

    C. In that society, it was a shame and a disappointment to be barren. It might have been hard for Elizabeth to understand why God was allowing this — yet she obviously trusted. How would this “wilderness” particularly equip her to mentor Mary?

    * Obviously, both women were being shamed-Elizabeth while she was barren, and Mary because it “appeared” to those around her that she has sex outside of marriage. There was nothing Mary could do to control or change what they thought of her and it must have REALLY hurt to be accused of something you didn’t do and be looked upon as someone you are not. Elizabeth, through her struggle was able to give control of it to God and that enabled her to encourage Mary.

  13. D. What rough waters have you made it through that might equip you to mentor others? Be alert — is there anyone who comes to mind who might be in the midst of those same rough waters?

    * Yes, I am going to think on this one and pray and come back to it.

    1. D. I have been through some rough waters and am still going through some now but in different areas. God has used it to enable me to minister to others in many different ways in the past. Right now, I think I am the one in need of mentoring. 🙂 It is tough having a child with ADD and handing those reigns to God. Maybe the issue isn’t really the ADD but the whole desire God has for me to let go of my children and trust Him with their lives. I am learning it is prideful to think I have that much control over my children when I don’t.

      Anne, I can relate with you and may need your advice here since Al is older and struggles. It may not be the same issue but you have to feel as I do as a mom having your son struggle.

      If you think about it today, please pray for Eli. he is a very sensitive person and is having a hard time with all of this. He will be getting an appointment soon with a top notch hospital/Doctor in this field to be evaluated and may have to be put on meds. We have avoided them not because we are against them spiritually or anything, but we are concerned about the side effects and we have to discern first if the cause is Aspergers or ADD.

      There is also some regular, kid, irresponsible stuff going on and it is difficult as a mom discerning the difference sometimes.

      1. Lord I pray that You will be so close to Eli. You gave him a beautiful, sensitive heart and I know that You are able to protect him. I know that all of the events of his life will work together for good and that You will grow him into the man you created him to be. Help him to see the wonderful gifts You have given him. Not only that but please help him to use them and know the joy they bring. May he focus on these things and not compare himself to others or be paralyzed by their criticism.

        Give Rebecca and her husband wisdom and leading from Your Spirit as they seek medical care for him. Lead them to the right doctors and give them supernatural wisdom as they filter what they are told. I also pray for supernatural understanding of Eli’s thought processes for them and for the doctors and therapists. Amen

        More later Rebecca. Both of my sons and myself have ADD.

      2. I am praying for you & Eli.

        1. Tracy, I forgot to say THANKS!!!!! God is answering your prayers!! 🙂

        2. I am happy to hear how God is answering!

  14. 2. Zechariah was a godly man, yet, as is true of many left-brained males, he had trouble immediately believing Gabriel. This did not add up.

    A. Describe the dialogue and everything you discover in Luke 1:12 to 1:20. What do you think about Zechariah?

    I think the conversation here is actually even kind of funny! Gabriel is asking for a sign and he is talking to an ANGEL!!!!! I think you are right his left brain was working…..how can this be, I am old, my wife is old…….but you would think his right brain would click in just a little for after all – he was talking to an angel!!! 🙂 What other “sign” would you need??

    1. I thought that was funny, too 🙂 Gabriel’s response: “Uhh… a sign? Who do you think I am?”

    2. I love this answer to that question, Fellowsojourner!

      1. Thanks Joyce!

  15. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I am so fortunate to be a part of this wonderful group. Rebecca, thank you for praying when you woke up at 1am. I see that as confirmation that the Spirit was calling me to serious prayer which is exciting. No earth shattering breakthrough but when I saw Al this evening he was calm and had a plan. He is so much smarter than I was at his age. I so want to see surrender to the Lord in him…baby steps I think.

    This adversity may be just what he needs to give him the resolve to lose weight. Since he graduated he has seemed to be adrift. He said tonight that his GPA and test scores are good so there is just that one thing. Everyone that knows him sees the Navy as a great thing for him. I saw our pediatrician the other day and he was very positive about it. He was so happy studying history in college. I sense that the Navy will be the same for him.

    1. I will pray for Al, Anne.

  16. 2. A. Describe the dialogue and everything you discover in Luke 1:12 to 1:20. What do you think about Zechariah asking for a sign? Why is Gabriel shocked?

    * Gabriel appeared at the right of the altar of incense and it was obvious who he was and yet a man who was truly godly still didn’t believe him.. Wow..that takes a load off of me I guess.. To think that not only did Zechariah, a godly man, lack faith so did Abraham, Moses, Peter and others whom God loved and found faithful and righteous in His eyes.

    * I think it is interesting how Gabriel caused him to be silent until it happened because he didn’t believe. He could have chose another consequence but didn’t.

    B. Skip ahead and look at Zechariah’s song when God loosed his tongue in Luke 1:67-80. What does this tell you about how he responded to the Lord’s chastisement?

    * He got it..God gave Him understanding. He didn’t whine about his chastisement, but instead focused on God and his mercies for the redemption of all peoples and what the purpose of John being born will mean.

    C. Research corroborates that women’s intuition may very well be a gift based on their global brain functions, whereas many men think primarily with the left logical side. What are the advantages of each kind of thinking? Why does this also show that women need women?

    * Logical thinking is great when there are situations that have obvious solutions where a global brain function may confuse it. The opposite of that is where some situations require a global brain function because the logical conclusion may be deceptive due to underlying things that might not be as visible. I am thinking if there are spiritual components involved especially.

    * Women are intuitive and when we rely on men they are usually always going to respond logically which is GREAT in a lot of cases, but we need other women to see us and our issues in a more intuitive way sometimes because a lot of times it is hard for us to step outside ourselves and see things intuitively. I also think that part of a ‘global brain’ is having logic as well. Women can usually not only see the big picture but both the big and the little details underneath.

    D. Research shows that married women with close women friends have stronger marriages than women who expect their husbands to be all things to them. If you are married, has that been true for you?

    * Yes! I find that my women friends help me think through things in a lot of ways and see things my husband may miss. I also find it helps me to minister to my husband better.

    E. The Scripture also says that God sets the solitary in families. What advantages are there for both married women and single women to have friendships together? What sensitivities are needed?

    * It is ESSENTIAL for married women to have friendships with single women.

    * There are many sensitivities on both sides. But one sticks out in particular due to the ‘married/single’ status of the friendship we are discussing.

    The single woman has to struggle with not coveting what the married woman has -children, husband, etc.. The married woman has to be sensitive to that as well and not be harsh with her when she expresses her longings in those areas. Also, in being honest about her struggles and God’s mercy and about marriage and also not to come across as a know it all.

    I think one of the worst things a married woman can do to a single woman when a single woman is struggling with not being married is unintentionally coming across as if her desire or longing for marriage is not good. I think it is so crucial for a married woman to encourage that having that desire is good and healthy and is God given. It is normal to come across as desperate when you have that desire. The key is mentor or encourage her to Keep Jesus in the center. If she does God will give her wisdom in who she dates, how she dates etc…

    Another advantage is that a married woman has been single and has either done it right or messed up. Either way she would be a great mentor to a single woman. The single woman can learn a lot before she gets married.

    The married woman has advantages too. The single woman, depending on who she is, has a more focused time in scripture most likely and can really pass on some wisdom to the married woman. Also in some of the stuff she sees in the married women’s children that the married woman can’t see..

    There are tons of advantages on both sides.

  17. 2. B. Skip ahead and look at Zechariah’s song when God loosed his tongue in Luke 1:67-80. What does this tell you about how he responded to the Lord’s chastisement?

    Zechariah’s reaction reminded me of the reaction Abraham and Sarah had to the prediction of Isaac’s birth. I wonder if Zechariah thought that, too, when he could speak.

    Zechariah apparently responded to the Lord’s chastisement by turning to Him (rather than rejecting Him). He was filled with the Holy Spirit, referred to God’s covenant with Abraham, and prophesied about what was to be brought about through the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus.

    C. Research corroborates that women’s intuition may very well be a gift based on their global brain functions,whereas many men think primarily with the left logical side. What are the advantages of each kind of thinking? Why does this also show that women need women?

    Advantages:
    logical: allows someone to be focused, goal-oriented, and complete tasks more efficiently

    Global: ability to synthesize info and view situations from a systemic perspective (without simplifying life into a bulleted list of points); better ability to multi-task

    Women may be more patient when we’re trying to process all the “extraneous” stuff because they are not focused on turning the process into fixing a problem or completion of a task. Of course, I know exceptions in both camps. Further, I think training/practice help rewire us (not always for the good) to either become more logical or think more globally. Western education, beginning from early years, favors logical. By training us to focus on some things, we also are trained not to see other things. I’ll have to ponder the implications of sex differences in the context of cultural differences. (Perfect timing to throw this question at my class next week 🙂 )

    D. Research shows that married women with close women friends have stronger marriages than women who expect their husbands to be all things to them. If you are married, has that been true for you?

    Do I still get the points even though I can’t answer this question??? 😉

  18. Rebecca, I think Al’s story may be encouraging to you so I will try to tell it briefly. He never did well in school which is why we moved him to Catholic school. We fought the ADD dx and medication. Finally when he was in high school I put my foot down and took him to the doctor. We went to a psychologist who said that the only way to really diagnose it is to try the medication. He tried it briefly and did not think it helped him. During this time is when I realized I had it also (I even took medication for a while). So Al went to a university right out of high school and flunked out. There were several factors there but partying was not one of them. He dropped out in the 2nd semester and came home. Then he did what we should have done to start with and went to a community college. He thought about taking nursing and I talked him out of it. Maybe that was a mistake but I really did not then and still don’t think he would have liked it. He wanted to study history and people said he could not make a living at it. True, but I have a friend who is very passionate and she said she thought he should by all means do that if it is what he loves. It was good advice I think. He continued at the community college and was able to get in to UNC as a junior. He did incredibly well which is what I wanted to share with you Rebecca. When he found something he loved it made all the difference for him. I remember many times when he commented that he just loved his studies. This from a young man who never would do his work! So now he has his BA (Bizantine studies). He wanted to get a phd so he could be a professor but the economy went south and it looked like he would have much difficulty getting a professorship. He has a good bit of debt and grad school would have been unwise. He started with post bac courses but then decided to withdraw and apply to OCS with the Navy. This decision came one morning at about 5am which happened to be when I was up praying for him. It was early in the God of All Comfort study.

    I fought the control issue. He was my firstborn and I thought I could make him perfect. The last 10 years have been an exercise in letting go. I think I finally have so my anxiety turns inward which is what I was going through the other day. I have to pray fervently and let God work. He does so much better than me. Yours are still young so you can let go slowly. Give them little forays into independence, things that you can choose, and if it should happen, let them fail.

    Joey has more than a little bit of ADD. We put him on medication in 8th grade and it made the difference of night and day. It was hard to regulate and he does not like to take it but he sees how he needs it so he takes it.

    About the poem I wrote, was anyone able to see that the cord was a long string of spider web? Was it obvious or not?

    So much for being brief. Sorry.

    1. Anne,
      The spider web makes complete sense now that you tell us. (20/20 hindsight?)— and knowing that made your poem even more vivid and meaningful. But it didn’t “click” with me when I first read it; but I’ve always been kinda dense the first or second time through when it comes to poetry! I think it would be really cool printed out either on top of a sketch of a spider web, or next to a pretty glistening picture of one 🙂

      1. Renee, I never seem to be able to ‘get’ riddles. That is why I wondered how hard it is.

    2. Anne, WOWWOW!! That is all I can say, well not really…I MUST respond.

      This encouragement and timing is totally brought from the Lord! There are too many similarities. Elijah LOVES history, especially ancient history. He also loves Engineering and Science and is making A’s in those classes. God has blessed him with intelligence as well.

      To hear that you know exactly where I am at is so comforting and to hear that when he finds his nitch it will get better.

      Through your prayers Anne and everyone elses here God is speaking to me in regard to how I approach him. I approach all my boys different, but my approach with him has been too blunt. He is very sensitive even to constructive criticism. He is also sensitive to pain like when he gets a hang nail it is like the world is ending. 🙂 So I have been trying to toughen him up. Not good. God made him sensitive and I am learning I can easily break his spirit by trying to make him someone he is not. He gets teary eyed at the drop of a hat. God has given him the gift of Mercy. He always seeks out the hurting and the boys who don’t have any friends to be-friend. I love his sensitive spirit.

      We had a break through last night. I had him TEACH ME his Algebra during home work time. I am horrible at it. He said he gets bored with it because he already knows it, but he enjoyed teaching it to me and he got done in a timely manner. I had to keep him on track because in between problems he started talking about stuff that side tracked him. Other than that it was a great step forward for me in how to handle him.

      I am humbled. This is just the beginning of a long journey, but praise God for his prompting in my heart and His answers to your prayers, and for His great love for my son in letting me know how he ticks.

      I will keep you all posted on things!! Love to all of you and thanks Anne for your sweet spirit and the time you have taken to mentor me in this area! I am sure I will have more questions for you later. :0)

      1. I think it is wonderful how the Lord is working in your lives for your boys, Anne and Rebecca!

        1. Joyce, me too, and thanks so much for praying! It’s cool how God is weaving our lives together in His amazing Tapestry! 🙂

      2. Joyce, it is SO wonderful! These are the things I must remember when I get anxious.

        Rebecca, Eli teaching you algebra. I love it! Do you think I could be next?

        1. Anne, I will send him your way! ;~P

        2. Oh, and another answer to prayer has come today. The Lord quickened me to change the way I communicate and listen to Eli.

  19. Read Luke 1:5-7

    A. Elizabeth was “blameless”. Since no one is without sin, what would it mean to walk blamelessly?

    It would mean to be walking with God, listening to Him and trusting and obeying Him. Keeping short accounts with Him; confessing sin quickly. The Message translation says, “They lived honorably before God…and enjoying a clear conscience before God.”

    B. Many translations say she was “blameless and barren”. What do you learn about God and about life from seeing those two words together?

    That life isn’t always fair. “Nice” people don’t always finish first. Her barrenness was not a reflection of her relationship with God; He loved her and she walked closely with Him.

    C. In that society, it was a shame and a disappointment to be barren. It might have been hard for Elizabeth to understand why God was allowing this – yet she obviously trusted. How would this “wilderness” particularly equip her to mentor Mary?

    Mary’s pregnancy was a kind of wilderness experience; Joseph at first thought she had been with another man; she was a virgin and young – I expect it was somewhat frightening for her. Some questioned her reputation. Elizabeth was a godly, older, mature woman who had many years under her belt of walking through disappointment, shame, anxiety and fear; yet she had managed to stay close to the Lord, too. She would have been the perfect person to reach out to Mary and help her to keep trusting in God.

  20. Anne,
    So sorry to hear that your family is under attack – I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  21. This is off topic but I would like to ask for prayer regarding the recurring worry I have so often anymore about displeasing God. The closer I get to Him the more I see my own sin. I want to please God so very much! I think the enemy takes this desire and twists it into fear that I might displease Christ where then I become more afraid of that than focused on God. I so appreciate your prayers! Love in Christ to you all, thanks again.

      1. Amen!

      2. I agree with you Fellowsojourner. All I can say is Amen!

    1. Tracy, praying for you.

      1. Thank you all so much for the prayers! Love in Christ!!

    1. Praying for you Dee!

    2. You certainly have my prayers Dee, Love you, Joyce

    3. Praying for you Dee!

      Lord quicken Dee’s spirit today and tomorrow to be quiet-listening for your voice. Lord if she begins to become anxious or tries to control things quicken her again and use it to re-direct her attention to you, and strengthen her faith. Lord, help her to not fear and remind her you are with her. please reveal yourself to her again today and tomorrow as Zondervan makes their decision, as her son in law has his debate and as she travels. Also Lord bless her speaking engagement abundantly to the hearts of those who are hearing it. Give Dee Strength in body and spirit as you work through her to touch those precious lives. May your holy name be glorified above all things for you ARE above all things.

      1. Please pray for me ladies.. I am singing Sunday for the first time at our new church.. I am a bit nervous..There is so much involved.. A new stage I haven’t sang on, different sound equipment, more people.. There is so much to allow myself to get nervous about.. Pray for the Lord’s anointing on it and that He would give me confidence and a quiet and submissive heart toward him. Pray that others will be uplifted by the song and that it would minister to their hearts. It isn’t about me, but about Him and for this particular song perhaps a prodigal, or an ‘older son’, or someone who doesn’t know Him. My desire is that the Lord would speak to their hearts. :0)

        1. You’ll do great, but I am praying for you.

        2. Praying for you Rebecca!

        3. Lord, thank You for the beautiful gift of song that You have given Rebecca. May all that she ministers to be blessed with Your presence. Please work out all of the details and logistics of singing in a new place. May her heart soar as she sings this song for You and may her voice never once break.

        4. Joyce, Fellowsojourner and Anne and Tracy and everyone else praying!! Thanks so much ladies!! I really liked this: “May her heart soar as she sings this song for You and may her voice never once break.”

          Pray the morning would go well with the boys-no stress SO THAT I can ready my heart before the Lord. Thanks again gals!!

    4. I am praying!

  22. 3. Read Luke 1:28-38

    A. What similarities and differences from Zechariah do you see in Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke 1:28-38?

    *Similarities: Mary was afraid, Zechariah was afraid when they saw Gabriel.
    Their responses were similar, but they could also be a difference based on the intent behind what they said. Mary said, “How can this be?” Zechariah said: “how can I be sure of this?” -maybe the difference could be that Mary was just wondering how she could get pregnant being a virgin because Gabriel answered her in detail as to how it will happen. Zechariah was clearly not believing it. I don’t know, I could be wrong about that.

    Differences: Mary responded with submission.. Zechariah didn’t respond due to him not being able to speak. I am not sure he was ready to submit to God’s plan at that time.

    B. Mary doesn’t ask for a sign, yet Gabriel gives her one. What is it?

    * That Elizabeth would be with a child in her sixth month.

    C. Why would this propel her to Elizabeth’s home? (Extra credit 🙂 How far did she walk?)

    * Because she believed what Gabriel said and was thrilled that Elizabeth was part of the plan so she didn’t feel alone. She was probably scared and needed guidance and encouragement because let’s face it, who else could she tell that would understand.. They would most likely laugh at her or condemn her. no one else was going to understand or uplift and encourage her. I think it was really awesome how God provided and prepared a friend like Elizabeth for her in this time.

    * I know in regard to the miles but I won’t divulge because I googled it. All I can say is, wow! 😉

    D. Think about a time when something propelled you into a friendship — and then you realized God was behind it. Share.

    * I am going to think on this and come back to it.

  23. 3. Read Luke 1:28-38

    A. What similarities and differences from Zechariah do you see in Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke 1:28-38? Rebecca, I agree wholeheartedly with you! Zechariah’s response to the angel’s proclaimation was one of doubt! But Mary’s response was one of faith, not questioning “if” but how.

    B. Mary doesn’t ask for a sign, yet Gabriel gives her one. What is it? That her relative Elizabeth was with child.

    C. Why would this propel her to Elizabeth’s home? (Extra credit 🙂 How far did she walk?)

    I don’t know why she went to Elizabeth’s home, my guess would be for encouragement. What was happening with her was a miracle, what was happening with Elizabeth also was a miracle, who better to encourage each other. I think they must have had great fun together. They shared so much.

  24. I miss this study. I am going to have to find a way to do both. If nothing else I can read all of your answers as I have been doing. It is interesting that Mary responded in faith and received the sign. Zachariah did not believe and was silenced. I think Mary hurried to Elizabeth because she was just plain thrilled that she was having a child after waiting so long. She was happy for Elizabeth and wanted to rejoice with her.

  25. C. and D. Men are left brain which is : logical, factual, aggressive, fixes the problem, gets the job done, don’t need to talk, shuts down or will withdrawl. Women are right brain which is: lots of feelings, talks alot, communicating, fine detail, imagination, more expressive. I think this tells us why we need other women, because like my husband, if I cry he wants to fix the problem when all I need is to talk or alittle sympathy. Women friends make my marriage better, because us women can talk and pray and let our feelings out and feel sympathy and express our deepest feelings, where a man will want to get to the problem and find a solution and fix it and forget it!

    E. I think both married and single women can be good friends and still need each other because we can still share feelings and talk and pray with one another regardless of their marital situations because we are women first and have needs that men don’t understand. (sharing feelings and eye to eye contact for one)

    1. Joyce, you so hit the nail on the head. If they can’t fix it they tell us we should not feel that way. Maybe they can turn off their feelings but I can’t.

      Another thing about the difference between Mary and Zacharias is that because of the way Mary was wired, perhaps the Lord was able to communicate with her more easily. Almost all of what I understand from the Lord, other than reading the word, I sense by intuition. Many times I have wondered after if I really heard from Him and almost always find that I have. When I am working I have learned to listen to that faint discomfort within and go back to look at a situation again. It has always proven to be to the advantage of myself and my patients.

      1. I would like to have you for my nurse, Anne!

  26. 3 A. The above answers are what I would also say, that Zachariah did not believe and was silenced because of that. But Mary responded in faith and rejoiced.
    B. I’m not sure about the sign Gabriel gave Mary, but could it be that He told Mary that Elizabeth has conceived in her old age, and with God nothing will be impossible?
    C. This news propelled Mary to Elizabeth’s home because, like women she needed to share her good news with her freind, and rejoice with both their blessings of babies to be born!
    Mary walked from The city of Galilee named Nazareth to where Elizabeth lived in the hill country, to a city of Judah. I don’t know how far that was but it sounds like a long ways. I checked my maps on google and it says 2 hours and 57 minutes on route 6 by car! If that is right, she walked for a long, long time!

  27. Joyce, it would be my pleasure except I don’t want you to need a nurse.

    1. I will Nov. 18th, as I am having back surgery in Omaha and will be there for 3 days. He will fuse my lower back. I will ask for prayer before I go. Wish you were there!!

      1. Oh. Well I will certainly pray for you. That I can do.

  28. Joyce, Do you still have an extra copy of Friendships of Women? I invited a friend to the study and if she comes, she might like to read the book. We’ll see.

    1. Yes, I have one copy left. I gave one to a friend, but would certainly mail this copy to you if you’d like!

      1. That would be wonderful! Thank you!
        Can you email me at afalzone@gmail.com.

        1. yes

  29. ICE BREAKER (better late than never!)
    I’d like to share a time when the Lord led me to a friend and yes, the Lord was definately behind this friendship and was involved and his purpose was to protect me and have a great friend to lean on.
    This experience has helped me mentor to others going through similar rough waters, but I don’t talk about this to many people unless I need to.
    I was 17 in 1967 and just graduated from high school. My high school sweetheart graduated the year before and joined the Navy to get out of being drafted into the Army, because Viet Nam was full force then. We got married on his leave and moved to CA where he was based.
    I broke my mom and dad’s hearts, as I was the youngest and only girl, but I was desperately in love and missed him so much, that I had to be with him.
    He had a bad temper when we dated, but young love overlooks everything! The next 3 years of Navy I was back and forth to home in NE and CA as he shipped out. He had one whole year in Viet Nam on a PT boat right in the middle of the fighting and had to kill or be killed and lost several buddies. Being in the Navy didn’t spare him of any of the awful war stuff…it only drug out longer.
    After he was out, we settled down back home here in NE and the trouble began. The war made him a mental wreck.
    We moved to KS and CO in the 9 years we were married because of jobs. I finally divorced him when I was 25 in 1995 and came home to NE.
    At one of the jobs in KS we both worked the grave yard shift from 11 to 7 at the same factory. I met my girlfriend there at work. She was my mom’s age and had just lost her husband in a terrible truck accident. He was a truck driver. She was from AL but came to KS to live with her son and family to just get away and try to heal from the pain.
    We both needed a friend, but it was hard because my husband didn’t want me to talk to anyone. But Mary and I managed to find the time somehow.
    At home my husband then would go into rages and go for my neck and I thought several times I would never get another breath and would surely die.
    I came to know the Lord during these difficult years through some other friends. I confided in Mary about what my life was like at home and how scard I was. She took me under her wings like a mother hen. She was a christian also.
    At times when I would not come to work with my husband, she would be on the phone to see if I was okay. And when I came to work, she would notice marks and bruises on my neck no matter how I tried to hide them. She helped me get away from him later on.
    Mary was like a mother, a mentor and my very best friend. I could of never gotten away if not for her. I still loved him and was too scard to do anything. My family never really knew how bad it was, either.
    After I was back home in NE and the divorce was over, Mary was back in AL too. We called and wrote letters all the time and got together as much as we could. We were always best friends no matter the distance.
    We moved on with our lives and both remarried. I had my three kids with my 2nd husband and he left me and the kids after 10 years. Kendra was a baby.
    Mary was always there for me through the years. She loved my now husband. She died about 5 years ago. I’m crying as I write this as I miss her so much. She called me “Cornsilk” (corn…Nebraska!) and I loved her so much! God sent her to me when I needed her most. I still keep in touch with her daughter, about my age.
    I’ve been able to help other’s because of my experience’s at times. My best friend now had went through alot of years of abuse from her ex-husband. I helped her through those difficult years.
    My first husband is in WY and has married two times since and both wives divorced him, so he is alone. I don’t blame him tho. The war was what changed him.
    The Lord has been so good to me. And Mary is in heaven watching over me with mom and dad and I have been so blessed to have them in my life, as they loved me so much and I loved them so very much too. Thank you, Mary for being my very, very special friend.

    1. Joyce, I am so sorry for all that you have been through. Thank you for sharing this.

      Lord, thank You for being with Joyce through such horrible experiences. Your power is displayed in her life story. Thank you for preserving her life and weaving all these things together for good. Thank you for sending this dear friend to her and for the knowledge of such a wonderful reunion to come. Please multiply the joy this friend brought and pour it into Joyce’s life right now.

      As she looks ahead to the surgery she must have in November, I pray that You would give her peace and the calm assurance that You are with her always. Give wisdom to the surgeon and the entire team that will be caring for her. May Your healing be in his hands. Particularly for the nurses taking care of her I ask Your comfort to come to her through them. May a very special friendship be the result. Amen

      1. Thank you so much Anne and everyone here, your friendship and prayers mean so much.

    2. Joyce, Thanks so much for sharing. It was hard to read all the way through without crying. I can’t imagine anyone hurting someone as precious and kind as you.

      You amaze me. Well, it amazes me to see how God has given you such faith. You have been through deep, deep waters and have come out like a beautiful, bright sunflower with your face fixed on Him, and you have such great compassion toward others. Joyce, you inspire me. Thanks for sharing, God was truly glorified.

    3. Thanks for sharing Joyce. It means alot knowing you understand what it once was like to live in chaos. God has given you such a courageous and loving heart.

  30. Joyce,

    That took alot of courage for you to share that. I am sure you may have helped someone who is “silent” and just reading along on the blog. What a beautiful story of your friendship with Mary, she was truly a good friend, and I’m sorry you have to miss her companionship now that she has gone home to Jesus. A friend like Mary is a rare treasure, indeed. I can see why you love her so!

    It is encouraging to see that through all your difficult times in life, the Lord has been there and that you are not left a broken woman, but a healed woman and a stronger woman through Jesus Christ.
    And, I might add, a beautiful woman.

    1. You are a beautiful woman Joyce! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your heart! A beautiful woman with a beautiful friend! God is so good!

      1. Thank you both so much, I rejoice in my trials as God molded me from them. I wouldn’t change a thing, as my life is my life and God is glorified because of it. I bring these things up tho hoping to help someone else going through difficult times. Everything is better because of it and all worked out for the good, just as the bible say’s it will. Just keep trusting and praying and asking for forgivness.

  31. I could use some prayer, also. I had an experience yesterday that dragged up alot of old, painful emotions from my past. It grieves me that I am 46 years old and still carrying around this baggage, but apparently I am. Much of it has to do with my having the ability to feel loved and feeling like a failure in so many areas, the pervasive feeling that something is just wrong with me. What happened yesterday brought up the painful emotion of rejection.

    Last week’s study was so helpful; I must admit a study on friendship is not easy for me. I don’t have many close friends. I have suffered from loneliness much of my life. Many years of being a stay at home mom in neighborhoods where most women work full-time. When we moved to where we live now, I made a close friend with a woman who lived down a few houses from me; but ten years ago she moved and we still keep in touch, but don’t get to see each other but rarely. I’m in the “partial empty nest” syndrome – one son in college and the second already a junior in high school. I miss those little boys! Of course I still have many years, God willing, with my ten year old daughter.

    I am a nurse, I just work one day a week now, but I’m having trouble envisioning my life when my daughter grows up! I know I can always work more, but there’s still alot of emptiness I feel. I’m just feeling really down since yesterday, and even Jesus feels so far away.
    I can see from what I’ve written already – too much “I feel, I feel” – I know God doesn’t want us to be ruled by our feelings, but it’s a little hard right now!

    I do appreciate this fellowship and all of you.

    And Tracy, I read your above request for prayers. Maybe this will help you:

    “Anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time knows what it’s like to feel like a total failure – to be deeply frustrated over how far we are from what we know God wants us to be. Recently I read the story of one man who expressed his struggle this way:

    “I hated myself. I hated my sin…often I’m tempted to think that anyone so full of sin cannot be a child of God at all!”

    It might surprise you to know that these words were written by one of the most remarkable heroes in the history of the Christian church – Hudson Taylor, the great missionary pioneer of the 19th century. Taylor was known as a man of deep faith, sacrifice, and prayer. Yet even this spiritual gian agonized over his seeming inability to conquer the power of sin in his life.

    God used a letter from a friend to bring about a major turning point in Taylor’s life. This friend understood exactly what Taylor was going through. He shared his personal testimony that true holiness cannot be found through striving or trying harder to be a good Christian, but only through abiding in Christ – looking to Him and allowing Him to live His holy life in and through us. As Taylor read that letter, he was given a new look at Christ. That look proved to be life changing.”

    Tracy, I got that from a newletter dated August 2004 from Revive Our Hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) and I immediately thought of it when I read your prayer request. I had saved it because it hit home with me, too.

    My prayer for you is may you just enter into the rest that Christ promises and be still; know that He has loved you with an everlasting love, and underneath are His everlasting arms.

    1. Dear Susan, I’m praying for Tracy also but did you hear yourself giving advice and prayer for Tracy? It was beautiful! Turn that around for you! You have been through such rough waters too in your life, with your mom and dad’s salvation worries and your dad’s health problems and losing your nephew to drugs and breaking away from your husbands church and being so sick. We are kinda alike with our kids….you have two boys older that don’t need mom as much, as I have two older one’s too. You have a 10 yr. old daughter at home…I have our special needs daughter at home. But I still feel lonely for my older two also. It’s the hardest thing a mom will go through is letting go of our kids. We know one thing for sure, that change is always there. We need to embrace change instead of fear it. And we need to put Jesus first in our lives and help others. You do all of that, all the time being a mom and a nurse. You are an inspiration to me because you are so knowledgeable and inspire me so much! I never went to college or had a career like you. I can’t say beautiful prayers or even spell very well. But I’m not going to let that get in the way of having friends like all of you! I have never been so blessed as when I joined this study the first of this year. I feel like I can tell all of you anything…and I have! You are my friends through Jesus and I love you. My e-mail address is maurjoy@charter.net and I’d welcome anyone of you to be my friend because we have God in common and nothing else in this world is more important than that. I’m praying for you, Susan as you are so dear to me.

    2. Susan
      I will be praying for you more and more. Ah,loneliness, I struggle with it too. I am currently reading thru Joshua and noted this morning that the Lord COMMANDED Joshua to be ‘strong and courageous’ for He was with Joshua. I forget that sometimes. God IS with me (and us). I myself don’t have a best friend, only many acquaintances who call me when they ‘need’ someone to listen to them.
      I went through a bout with discouragement this week. The enemy thought he had me down for the count but I got back up. I just read a quote from Dr. Tony Evans on Facebook. “Much of what we battle takes place right between our ears. Know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
      Rebecca is right-something beautiful is taking place here on the blog. We are sharing truth with one another, praying for one another (I should have cried out for prayer earlier this week), and encouraging one another.
      Have a blessed evening my sisters.

      1. Tammy, it is good to hear from you. We missed you! Thanks for sharing the comfort you received from the Lord.

      2. Missed you too, Tammy. I will pray for you. Hope you week is better next week.

      3. Tammy, Hey sister I have been missing you on here! I will pray for you this morning that you would be encouraged!! It amazes me how God speaks to me through your posts and others.

        This morning it is what Tony Evans reminded us of through your post, to be strong and courageous because God IS with us!! I really needed to hear that this morning. 🙂

    3. Susan, Thank you so much for the encouraging words and prayers, as well as the info on Hudson Taylor. It always makes one feel less alone in struggles to know that others so strong in the faith have also gone through it.

      Thank you all for praying. I’m not sure what God has in mind for me through these things but I know He’s teaching me such valuable lessons and drawing me closer to Him.

  32. Dear Susan, I too, have struggled with feelings of rejection, even once in a while now, rejection wants to rear it’s ugly head and swallow me alive.

    We are beloved in Christ, Susan! We are His beloved, it’s an amazing wild thought! I don’t want to be someone who just wants to fix your problem, but I want to be a rope thrower to one who is sinking in quicksand.

    I grew up in a home where I felt ultimately rejected by my father. My father was either absent or abusive. It left great wounds on my soul. When I got saved, I thought, well finally, my Dad will love me, it did not happen that way. I struggled also with condemnation when I first got saved, for all the things that I had done. My mom (and thank God for Moms), would always quote that verse to me, “There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” And she would tell me, the thoughts may come, but you have to fight them off, with the truth.

    I also feared not pleasing God, I think, because I could never please my own father. My sister gave me the verse one day, about, “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” It is a beautiful thing to hunger and thirst after righteousness and I think God is pleased – for He promises to fill us up.

    God is not like the person or persons who rejected us, He is for us! We are His beloved. I have often prayed, Lord show me what you think of me, and He has answered that prayer, and His thoughts are good!

    Another thing that God has shown me, is whether or not my father loves me, I can love him. His acceptance or non acceptance of me, is not my problem. I can love without expecting anything in return and be like my FATHER! 🙂

    1. Fellowojourner that was wonderful! I love how you turned that around about whether or not my father loves me, I can love him! It’s not your problem if he accepts you or not! My dad use to say to me “Your just like your mother”! I took that as a bad thing for years, but didn’t really know what he meant, but it hurt. But then since I lost my mom last year, I think about that, what dad said and I turned it around and now I think, Thanks dad! That is really a compliment that I am just like my mother, because she was a wonderful mother!
      You have such good advice for Susan! I love your heart! Hope you are staying healthy after such a horrible beginning of the year. You are such a blessing!

  33. Susan, Fellowsojourner and Tracy, my heart goes out to you all. I fear to say anything that would deepen the wounds. I too struggle with feelings of failure and rejection.

    This week my study in Isaiah has ministered to me and lifted me onto solid ground. In the 6th chapter Isaiah sees the Lord in all of His glory and is undone because he can also see his own sinfulness so acutely. But God provides for his cleansing and then calls him as a prophet to a crucial time in the history of Israel. Could it be that our look into the Word and seeing the glory of the Lord is causing us to see ourselves more clearly? I think we also stand as Isaiah did, on the brink of God’s calling in our lives, even with our hand on the doorknob. The enemy would keep us behind the door, forever guilty in our own eyes but we are beloved and free from his accusations.

    Isaiah’s ministry looked like a disaster to him, I am sure. The land of Judah left ruined and empty. His own heart broken. From our vantage point we can see that God was cleansing His people and a remnant remained. Out of that remnant our Savior came and brought our cleansing (no burning coals on our mouths).

    1. Anne, I’m so glad you have time to be in both studies as I would miss you so much as you have such wonferful insight and such a big heart! And I loves your prayers so much too!

    2. Anne, Susan, Fellowsojourner and Tracy, I ALSO sometimes struggle with the same feelings even though I know there is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus, even though I KNOW God loves me deeply and He cherishes me..

      Susan, I can SO RELATE to Hudson Taylor and it refreshed my spirit to hear those words, to know someone like that feels the same way I do about my sin. Thanks for sharing that!

      1. The verse about no condemnation is such a great one.

  34. Oh my goodness!! I just caught up on all the beauty going on between you all here in my e-mail. God is present here.

    1. Rebecca, you are such an awesome mom and singer and beautiful person! I gotta get off of here tho, as I’m starting to sound like a councelor!

      1. Joyce,

        Your words are always pleasant to our ears sister!!

  35. 3. Read Luke 1:28-38

    A. What similarities and differences from Zechariah do you see in Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke 1:28-38?

    They were both startled (Zechariah) and troubled (Mary) by the appearance of an angel, but Mary believed, only asking how it could be since she was a virgin.

    B. Mary doesn’t ask for a sign, yet Gabriel gives her one. What is it?

    The sign was Elizabeth’s pregnancy, despite having previously been barren.

    C. Why would this propel her to Elizabeth’s home? (Extra credit 🙂 How far did she walk?)

    I’m sure she was very excited and knew that they had something very unique in common, miraculous pregnancies.

    Others have answered the extra credit question, so I’d only be copying and that’s cheating, 😉

    D. Think about a time when something propelled you into a friendship — and then you realized God was behind it. Share.

    The story I shared in the icebreaker as a time like that, because I had the opportunity to spend more time with my friend because she worked at the same college I was attending. It was totally planned by God. 🙂

    4. Being led in friendship is all about hearing the still small voice of God and acting on it. The worldly way of making friends is by looking for someone who is like you, who may be useful to you. While it is not wrong to enjoy similar interests, we absolutely need to be open to all kinds of people. Evaluate your friendships from God’s perspective. What do you see?

    I see my current friendships coming from God. This was not so before I became a Christian in early high school or as I was in my first years in Christ. I was not a very good friend and did not have very good friends. Just letting go and giving it all to Christ to find the right friends for me has made all the difference. While I may not have hundreds of friends, the ones I have are orchestrated by God and our relationships are the quality kind. I include all of you on this blog as my real friends in Christ!!

    1. You too Tracy! You are indeed a friend in Christ. I pray your week end went well, Dee

  36. Dee, update us on your weekend!! Also, update us on the other two prayer requests!

  37. D. Think about a time when something propelled you into a friendship — and then you realized God was behind it. Share.

    * Two friendships come to mind right away. Elsa and Charla were the two women, besides my sister in law, who came alongside me as a brand new believer and just helped me get rooted in a strong church.

    I was propelled to be with them because I needed them and God knew it so He brought them to me. They really went out of their way to hang out with me. I didn’t even know I needed them. I was fresh out of the band/bar scene and a brand spankin’ new babe in Christ, and a little rough around the edges yet they stuck with me and kept inviting me to things and then as we all grew in Christ we grew closer together. It just so happened they are musically inclined as well and that was like icing on the cake. Over time He knitted us together musically and worked through us in the sweetest sisterhood community I have ever tasted. Yes, he ministered through us in song, but also in our community and with one another. I don’t know but I think our life on life ministry with one another was richer than our music ministry. God is good and the great provider!

    What is so cool about God is that we can trust Him to bring good, solid sisters to us. HE WILL DO IT!! We don’t need to ever ever feel lonely even though we do sometimes, I know I have many times. He is good and He knows what we need. :0)

  38. Rebecca, God is so faithful isn’t He. I think it is great that one of your special friends is someone who is also in your family.

    How did the music go this morning?

  39. Anne, Thanks! I think it went well. Glad you asked because I didn’t want to forget to mention to you that God brought to mind something specific you prayed for. Right before I went up on stage He said, “Let your heart soar.” It was beautiful. 🙂

    1. Wow Rebecca! Thanks for letting me know about that. I’m so glad. I would love to have been there for that but even so I feel like I was a part of the worship :o)

      1. Anne, you were!! 🙂

    2. I’m so glad it went well also! I knew you’d do great!

    1. Dee, Praise God, that is so encouraging to hear!