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What we long for, Proverbs tells us, is faithful friends who will let us in,

and who won’t let us down. (Pvbs. 20:6)

Who of us cannot identify with the yearning Anne of Green Gables expressed?

I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life…

a bosom friend — an intimate friend, you know — a really kindred spirit friend

to whom I can confide my inmost soul.


Our natural tendency, however, is to turn a good gift into an ultimate gift, expecting the gift to be what only God can be.idolatry

And when we do that, we smother the friendship, and the friend flees for air.

This proverb, while it makes me laugh, is all too true.

Seldom set foot2bf478b54fd88bd913b1f981a3df9442

We’ve crossed the line into relational idolatry when we expect someone to be what only God can be, and press in so close and constantly that the friend feels overwhelmed.

But if this is you, you can’t just tell yourself to stop it! Like everything else we have studied, it is a heart issue. Unless we fall in love with Jesus,

unless we allow Him to be the only One we expect to never let us down,

there is no hope of overcoming our idolatry problem.

What we can do in our spiritual friendships is to

help one another find strength in God instead of one another.

That is the three fold cord Solomon describes: Three fold cord

Last spring, many of you traveled to Ashland, Ohio where I was speaking.

You stayed together at a Bed and Breakfast and talked, into the night.

Mary E.; Laura-Dancer and her daughter; Chris; Susan; Dawn; Nancy and her daughter.

It was so sweet to meet in the flesh those whom we have come to know in their soul.

After having supper together, Laura-Dancer led us all in hand motions to

Spirit of the Living God. 

Susan (in the middle) and Chris (on the right) were willing to be on camera,

and I caught the sweet scene here:

Both visually and verbally, this catches what we can see happen on this blog.

The Spirit of God is falling on us, and as He does, we pour out to one another.

The amazing power we experience is that when

God refreshes us,

and then we refresh others,

then we ourselves are again refreshed!


Yes, just as it is possible to experience God in a place like this,

it is possible to experience friendship.

It’s happening right here, right now!

Sunday Icebreaker

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.

Monday-Thursday Bible Study

Let’s begin with some reflections on fidelity in friendship.

31b1548fc6a41abc9f8948897f2198c5The term “Fairweather Friends” has come to mean those who don’t really love you for you, but for what you can give them. When the storms of life come, on this blog, we can pray and encourage, and some of you who are close geographically might be able to do more. But prayer and encouragement are wonderful ways to help.

With good friends who are geographically close, it means so much when they are present. This last Sunday I had a literal storm that was one of the worst we’ve had up here on the lake. I was in my living room trying to shut windows against the gale when I heard the trees falling. Ten trees came down at once, in the hurricane like wind. Huge cedars that have been here for generations. I looked out my window and began to pray for God to be my husband. Within an hour brothers in Christ started coming down my driveway, or texting me, wanting to help. (My friend Vicki said, when I told her how God answered my prayer to be my husband, quipped: “Polygamy!”) God gave more than I even asked!

Jonathan, a dear man from my church, has been here all day every day all week, cleaning up. Indeed, how much it means to have a “brother” when the storms come.

mail.google.comYet, though we should not be “Fairweather Friends,”  I also think we must give grace when friends let us down in the storm, for we all have feet of clay or are facing our own storms. Proverbs 19:11 says it is to a man’s glory “to overlook an offense.”

3. Have you been holding onto an offense because a friend let you down in a storm? Can you release it, to your glory? Read carefully and I’ll ask for your prayerful reflections: The RSV translates “Proverbs 18:24a” as “there are friends who pretend to be friends.” We all fear this — being approached for what we can give, rather than who we are — yet, as Tim Keller has observed, there is an element of this motivation in each of us — so we shouldn’t be so shocked if others do it. Ellen Davis translates this “Some friends play at friendship, but there is a friend who sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.” She makes the observation that the word translated “some” or “many” implies this is common — in contrast to the singular friend who sticks closer than a brother. I think it is rare for a friend to never let you down — and this is why many see Jesus in this verse, as “the friend who is closer than a brother.” There are different kinds of friendships, and it is helpful to see this. There are friends who are like annual flowers, in your life for a season, and then they are gone. But even though the friendship was fleeting, it has value. And then there friends (few) who are perennials, in your life season after season.  On this blog we have some who come just for Lent, some who visit frequently, and some who are here all the time — but they ALL have value and beauty.  I never want anyone to feel like once they begin they must always stay. Do as He leads you, and we will love both our annuals and perennials! annuals-vs-perennials Jesus had circles of friends: On the outer circle, He had the 12 disciples to whom He confided. All but one endeavored to be true to Him. On the middle circle, He had the 3 (Peter, James and John) with whom He was especially close. But even they let him down in His biggest storm. Friends will let us down, but Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.

4. What reflections do you have on the above?

5. What similarity do you see between Proverbs 18:24 and 20:6?

6. Read Proverbs 19:1-7 and find what it says about wealth and friends. Think of this not only in terms of material wealth, but popularity and power. Search your own heart. Are you friends with the poor, the powerless, and the unpopular?

7. In contrast, read Proverbs 19:22. What do you think this means? unfailinglove

8. Read Proverbs 19 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you — and why.

9. Read Proverbs 20 in its entirety and share anything that quickens you — and why.

10. Rebecca Pippert said “We must learn how to be the host in conversation.” I think this is the art that is described in Proverbs 20:4.  What do you think this means?

Some of you are particularly good at drawing out the deep waters of a sister’s soul on this blog. You ask her what she means, you challenge her, you probe into her heart. You listen. Obviously there are too many comments for you to read them all carefully (though I have a few who do, God bless them!) but I ask you to be led of the Spirit in whom you might mentor or encourage.


Message from Dee on Friendship.Our own Rebecca accomplished a task that was far too daunting for me. She was able to get videos of some of my past teaching on the website. So today, from Falling in Love with Jesus, I’d like you to watch the 2nd video, which is on the mentoring friendship and share your comments.

11. Share your notes and comments.


12. What is your take-away and why?

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


  1. 1.  What stood out to you from the above and why?   Well Dee….you have outdone yourself with this introduction!  Or I should say the Spirit through you has done so.  🙂  Every word was meaningful to me.  Through the years I’ve often used the phrase “bosom friend” from Anne of Green Gables!  I’ve long felt that, though Anne’s perspective might not be specifically “Christian”, the friendship she desired was Scriptural in the sense of faithfulness and loyalty and heartfelt honesty.  I am blessed beyond all reason with several of those kinds of friends and I don’t really know why.  Perhaps because I have deep struggles in so many other areas of my life?  For instance, the vast majority of my family relationships are incredibly complex and sometimes quite difficult to navigate!  🙂  Our finances are somewhat desperate and have been greatly impacted by health issues in the family, etc.  But oh the golden friendships that spur me on!  I find that at this stage of my life (on the cusp of turning 59!) my heart’s true longing is in the area of friendship with Jesus.  He is the friend above all friends and I long to smile in His companionship every step of my days! 
    A couple of thoughts on the blog friendships.  They have astonished and blind sided me!  When I used to follow along silently I must admit (and have done so here before) that I was MORE THAN SCEPTICAL about all of the warmth that seemed to flow between those who participated here.  I am so ashamed to say that I put this blog in the category of “FB friends”, which are superficial, to be generous!!  I COMPLETELY discounted the Holy Spirit – how could that be???  I have repented of my prideful thinking about this – fueled by my prideful heart.  🙁   I have learned and personally experienced that the Lord is HERE in our fellowship.  Eerily so at times.  Many times.  So many of our sisters here who have shared struggles in face to face friendships have found them here.  How GREAT is our God to bring us all together?  To fill Dee with His Spirit continually as she shepherds us here?  Simply amazing.  Do you all know the song “Lord I’m Amazed By You?”.  I’m singing it in my heart right now!!
    And….. as for singing…..oh my goodness.  Tears.  Laura, Susan and Chris.  I had to go back and replay and sing (and do the motions!) along with you – WHAT a gift!!!  I’m sure I’m going to be singing this along with you all week.  THANK YOU. 

    1. Jackie, you would be one of the examples of finding a friend on this blog that I will use for #2!  Because of all the deep waters that the Lord has brought you through, you have become do deep, spiritually and so dear.  I wish we were geographically closer so that I could meet you in person!  I know we will one day but would be amazing if we had another big gathering of blog sisters this side of heaven! 

      1. Ah Mary – meeting would be sweet indeed.  SO thankful you were able to do so with some of the others!  Including “the singers”, right??  Ironically, for many years I regularly drove through Ohio (twice a year at least) on my way “home” to Wisconsin…..but for quite a few years now I fly when I go there.  My cars aren’t what they used to be!!  🙂  YOUR friendship has been the one that has mined the depths of what it means to love Jesus even when life becomes a ferocious struggle.  🙁     Your joy in His friendship and your desire for Him to be glorified above all else continually fortifies my soul.  As so many others here have expressed the same.  SO thankful that you are here with us.  

    1. Well Dee, WHEN those things are so it really is all of Him!  Rosaria Butterfield gave me a phrase that has been so helpful – “God deals differently with us when we deal differently with Him.”  I am continually flattened by my pride.  It just lurks everywhere (including on this blog sometimes).  But it is so TRUE that when we agree with Him (repentance), He DOES deal differently with us!  His fruit can truly flow at those times.  We’ve all experienced both sides of that coin I daresay.  His ways really are higher than ours!!  What a glorious mystery we get to live!  

      1. Jackie–I love everything Dee said about you above–could not have said it better (that’s why she’s the best-selling author & not me!)–you have been such a true gift here. I have learned so much through you about what it really looks like to be other-centered and to love friends like Christ. thankful for you

      2. Jackie, I’m in agreement with Dee and Lizzy…what Dee wrote about you is just so very true! You are one of the most listening, caring and encouraging women here. You do give refreshment to others, and I know what the source of your refreshment is…it’s that spring bubbling up inside of you, the fountain of the Holy Spirit. You then share that life-giving water with others.

    2. I agree wholeheartedly…well said, Dee.  You are a blessing, Jackie…a glass of cool water on a hot summer day.

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Heart check moment!  
    What stood out to me was the dread of being in the video. I have an unhealthy self loathing that I know hinders me in relationships, I doubt that others really want to be friends with me, or that what I have to contribute matters much.
    In many ways I still feel like the fat girl alone on the playground in elementary school.
    The little Freedom of Self Forgetfulness book by Keller, I probably need to read it weekly :~(

    I have grown in these things but I can’t stop speaking truth to my soul.
    I thought of this, which always makes me smile:

    “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” 
    ― Eleanor Roosevelt

      1. Dee, LOL!! Yes Chris-‘STOP IT’. :))) I too think you are soooo beautiful!

      2. Chris, Dee is totally right!  I actually thought (when we met) that you have a striking beauty about you! 

    1. Chris–I’m off to church but I had to jump in here!! Stop talking so falsely about one of my very favorite people I have ever met–YOU! Honestly, all I see in you is BEAUTY. I can’t even put words to all the “facets”–your pain, your humility, your holding on to Him in the fiercest of storms we all hope to never face–I am amazed at the work of Christ in you…and feel drawn to you because of it all. 

    2. Oh Chris…watching the video took me right back; I wish I could step back into it and be back there with all of you right now! Please don’t listen to the lies of the enemy – they’re just not true.

    3. Chris, it tears my heart that you struggle so much with your appearance. You are so beautiful outside as well as in. Hugs to you!

    4. Chris, oh how I would love your hair!!! You are beautiful inside and out 🙂

      1. Ditto what Laura said about your hair, Chris!   From the first picture I saw of you, I envied your beautiful features.  But your comments and depth of sharing would have drawn me to you, no matter where we met.  

    5. You are brave, Chris (and Susan too)!! I was so relieved that we were allowed to decline being in the video without feeling that we were horrible Christians and letting people down.  You did it even though it made you uncomfortable.

      1. Oh, I’m with you, Dawn.  I felt fine when it was just us, Laura teaching us and becoming familiar, but then when Dee suggested taping, oh discomfort…  I wish I would have done as Chris recommended below, “when fear grips me, … I need to trust and go forward.”  Lovely ladies…indeed brought back precious memories of treasured time spent together.

        1. Nanci, you were such a  warm and outgoing hostess at the B&B that I was surprised that you were too shy to be in the video!

    6. Tears, you all are so kind to me!
      Dawn, when I said I have grown in this area, being in the video was what I thought of. It was my inclination to flee! Not so long ago I most certainly would have.
      I am realizing that those are the very moments, when fear grips me, that I need to trust and go forward. I doubt having attention focused on me will ever be something I enjoy, but I want to bring glory to God and that may mean I have to step out of the shadows sometimes.

    7. Oh Chris, you are so very special…I look up to you, sister.  As others have said, you are lovely outside and inside.  Chris, you have shared yourself with us all and we are better for it; your willingness to go deep is inspiring, the witness you provide…you are an example to follow…many thanks.

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? The three strand cord. For two reasons:
    1. I thought of Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” I have people use this in a manner where it is a little demanding of God. Saying, “look! There are two or more Christians here, you had better come dwell among us!” But I have experienced this differently in the past couple of years. When two or more are gathered, seeking Him, you experience Him. He is truly among them, His sweet fragrance welling up and surrounding.
    2. When I make an idol of friendship, I break the three cord strand. Even if two or more are gathered in His name, if I am seeking relationship, friendship, approval, I break that cord because I am no longer there “in His name” for His glory, to seek Him and then that sweet fragrance is gone. This is not to say Christ will NOT be there, but there is a difference that I have seen.
    I always thought you had to have long friendship, deep friendship for this three strand cord, but this cord and Him being among us can happen in just one cup of coffee or an only cup of coffee (meaning you only meet once) If I am seeking Him, to serve Him by being a friend, by clinging to Him instead of grasping at friends, then the cord is three stranded and strong.

    1. I love this Jill, ” When two or more are gathered, seeking Him, you experience Him. He is truly among them, His sweet fragrance welling up and surrounding.”I thought of something Keller said about our friends being created in Gods image, and that we draw that out of one another. That the truth we understand deepens as we share it with each other.

  4. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    While watching the video this overwhelming joy and love filled inside for Susan, Chris and Laura Dancer. This post is beautiful-His beauty-that oneness in Him He designed us for..certainly now but oh in the future.. and that is the only way I can explain how this post and video spoke to me. 🙂

      1. Yep, we sure do and it is such a treasure!!! He is over and abundantly good.

    1. Rebecca, you remind me of John (the disciple) writing his 1 John letter, expressing the joy of fellowship with God and other believers. John was filled with love – he certainly wrote a lot about it, and so, too, are you!

  5. Well, #2 feels impossible. I could copy & paste my Hallmark-worthy “mush” from last week here, but let me say–those of you who know me well, know I am heavy on truth, so my words of love for you are SINCERE. So many of you have a place in my life that is closer than my biological family. I have been so blessed to share a real trust, a real friendship with many of you here, and I thank Him for that daily. 

    1. Lizzy, you are a very special presence here…so kind and welcoming, compassionate and encouraging.

      1. Nanci–thank you, I was missing you this week! You are a model to me also of forgiveness and unconditional love…I feel so weak at both, and learn much from your example. 

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Loved this video of Laura, Susan and Chris.  Tears.   I’ve long-loved watching the sign-worship leader when I visit a large church.   The beautiful movements give the words their fullest expression.  
    I’ve been so surprised at the friendship here.  It truly has been a life-line at times, to discover that I am not alone in my struggles.    I have received this as the Lord’s gift to me in reassuring me that I am not alone…… we are not alone….. in this journey.

    II Corinthians 1:3,4 speaks about the value of our afflictions in comforting one another.

  7. And on a lighter note, do any of you out there remember the Ann of Green Gables episode where young Ann says, “I’m in the depths of despair!”   
    Many years ago, my own little daughter, Annie, made this very statement at our dinner table when she just couldn’t eat all of her spaghetti!    She had been on a steady diet of Ann of Green Gables ~
    But truly and seriously, a bosom friend, even at a great distance, can be a life-line to regain our hope in Jesus when we are in despair.

    1. 🙂  great story, Nila!

    2. Lol, and how appropriate that her name is Annie 🙂

  8. 2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
    God’s timing… just today, Nila contacted me via Facebook as I’ve been absent for a while. A very real expression of care (at a very great distance), and it is refreshing.

    1. It IS so good to see you here, Kerryn.   I have missed you too!

    2. I wondered about you too recently, Kerryn. Hope you are well! 

  9. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “Unless we fall in love with Jesus, unless we allow Him to be the only One we expect to never let us down, there is no hope of overcoming our idolatry problem.” These words are so true, so piercing, so convicting – to me. And these words apply not only to relational idolatry, but to all the other idols in my life as well, as I search for comfort, security, approval, affirmation, and control. Yet I still struggle to connect with a God who is not flesh and blood present with me here, and sometimes feels like He is so very distant.
    The video brought back sweet memories! By the end of our singing, I felt tears stinging in my eyes. I was surprised at how meaningful doing the hand motions were; I felt like we were actually calling down the Holy Spirit. There was just something about singing and movement that made me feel a connection with Him and the other women. It was powerful, and again, the emotion stirred-up inside of me surprised me. I learned why Laura is called, “Laura-dancer”…she was beautiful, graceful, and I’m so glad she shared her gift with us!

    1. Susan, I loved that you and Chris put up with me! We did a good job 🙂 it turned out well, and it’s an easy enough piece to recreate for yourself when needed. Thank you for helping me out! You both were just as graceful…..

      1. Thank you Laura for sharing your gifting with us. I am not a graceful person and when you told us you were going to have us “dance’ I went to jello inside!I relieved that it didn’t require our feet and was surprised that I truly enjoyed it 🙂

        1. 🙂

        2. Chris, Laura & Susan, how sweet to watch you three in the video! It took me back to April & the delight I felt from meeting you ladies in person. Jesus is the common thread in our friendships despite the distance between all of us. Thank you, Dee, for being such a great leader of this blog. I could only hope someday to have 1/2 of the wisdom you ladies impart in the bible studies. Loved seeing the video of Dee & Kathy T., too. 🙂

    2. Susan – I had been thinking about this entry of yours and wanted to come back to it again…..you mention ALL of the idols you struggle with at times.  I feel the same!  It’s not like I can just pick one or two – I have the whole package it seems.  🙁    Of course I do understand that by temperament and disposition we are more prone to fall before one or two most days.  But it was this sentence that haunted me:  “Yet I still struggle to connect with a God who is not flesh and blood present with me here, and sometimes feels like He is so very distant.”   Your words here are part of what I express to God daily …..or some days many, many times in the course of a day.  These thoughts can seem relentless at times….and yet I know, I know that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  How I love that this blog is one of the places in my life where I can freely admit my sins and sometimes faltering faith….and be spurred on to remember the TRUTH and the GRACE of our God!  🙂  Maybe just take a moment…..and sing that lovely song “Spirit of the Living God”…..do the hand motions…..and let His grace pour down like rain upon your thirsty soul!  

  10. Proverbs 18:24… What a wide variation in translations…
    One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)
    Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (MSG)
    There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)
    A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NKJV)
    Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin. (NRSV)
    Some of these appear to interpret the verse as a general observation about friendship, but a few point to one particular, reliable friend. Which reminds me of a hymn we sang yesterday afternoon at the aged care facility – ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.

  11. 1.  What stood out from the above and why?  Not one particular thing, really.  I loved the video (how quickly those who are His can form a deep bond!)  I also love how the Lord came to Dee’s rescue via some friends (responded to her cry!)  😀  Then I thought how He (the Lord) might be more like Mathew (from Anne of Green Gables) to us than Marilla, but both loved Anne in their own way!  Matthew took great delight in giving Anne whatever her heart desired…like the dress with the puffy sleeves!  God also has to temper His love and delight in us with His ultimate best for us and His eternal plans, but He does delight in us and “sing over” us and He truly is the only friend who will never disappoint.  

  12. Sunday Icebreaker
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?   The last statement in the introduction:  ‘it’s happening right here, right now.’   I said a couple weeks ago in a comment, that when I first began here, I wanted to learn, grow and dig deep in the Word.  I felt stifled and was struggling with my place in my church and was keeping a low profile, so I hadn’t been engaged in a group Bible Study there for awhile, though I was always studying on my own.  I didn’t feel particularly lonely, because I still had close contact with my best friends here. So, I remember thinking (I maybe even said something like this to Renee, privately).  ‘I don’t think I can get really personally involved here or add prayer requests to my life.  I am already overwhelmed by all the needs to pray about for those in my real life.’  But then, the friendships here became so real.   I started to realize that there was a depth of love and sincere caring here that only real friends experience.  And soon, I was keeping a prayer list and remembering these friends on the blog regularly.  In fact, waking up at night and thinking of whomever had a specifically difficult need at that time.  True friendships, even though uniquely packaged, began to be discovered and unwrapped.   Right here.  In this place!  
    I wanted to comment on the Keller sermon from last week, but I didn’t get a chance to write notes.  And even though I told myself I’d remember some key points, I don’t remember them exactly.  I do remember feeling that the components of friendship that he described fit well with a couple of relationships I have.  With others, not all 4 pieces fit;  only 2 or 3.   I even began to think that my husband and I don’t consistently share all 4 of the main aspects of friendship he described.  I think the experiences Keller described come more easily with women.  Maybe.  I may need to re-listen.  But one other question came to my mind.  What about those friends, with whom you are sincerely trying to BE a good friend but you know that it will never be a reciprocal friendship.  (I’m thinking of a developmentally delayed woman I’ve mentioned before.  I know, to her…..my friendship means everything. She calls me with the smallest things (though they are big to her).   She will come to me with her sorrows and her joys….but she won’t be the person I first call.  I may not call her at all if I have a worry or an exciting story.  In fact, I usually conceal what’s really inside because her responses tend to be over the top.  This is just one of many non reciprocal friendships that I have and have had in the past.  I don’t want to think of them as ‘projects’ or ‘charity work’ because there really IS a component of friendship there. And I sincerely love and admire her.  It’s not a bosom friendship even though one of the two-some may feel it is.  Does that make sense?  Is there a good way to look at these kinds of relationships? ….or a resource anyone knows that may help clarify?
    The video was sweet.  I loved seeing you, Laura, Susan and Chris.   I was harmonizing and singing along, longing for the day we all sing together in one place. 

  13. Reading this blog today brings tears to my eyes. And it has taken a few minutes to figure out why. I came to this blog through a comment from my daughter who knew I had read and loved Dee’s “Friendships of Women”. We were, then, without knowing it, on the cusp of what has become a few traumatic years as my daughter ended up fleeing from her marriage and has, in the process, lost primary custody of her dear little sons (3 of them). I won’t go into the whole story but we are still heavily involved in her life as she tries to find her way again. We have had her living with us for more than a year now and have been given the gift and solemn responsibility of being much more actively involved in her life and the life of her sons than I would have ever thought. It has not been smooth sailing, but God has taught me a tremendous amount about Himself and about me through this process. Her sons are with her most weekends and for 6 weeks this summer. My daughter plans to begin a course this Fall on Early Childhood Education and looking forward to it, though she knows it will be difficult.
    With that background, let me say that, this blog and some of you here have been a rock for me as the storms pummelled. The waters are much calmer of late but sometimes life is still pretty intense. I am pretty private, but some of you have come alongside and encouraged me, shared your own lives with me and prayed for us. I do SO appreciate it. Life has become so busy that I cannot regularly do most of the lessons here, which I regret, but still I love to follow along and comment and study when I can. 
    I am not sure any of us will be able to meet this side of heaven, but I long to give so many of you a hug and share my heart with you. I too am amazed that God can use the Internet to meet a special need in my life during these past years through Christian online friendship.

    1. Diane, you are dearly loved here!  I remember the first time you mentioned (since I started) that you are a pastor’s wife.  You have had a special place in my heart since then because I know (second-hand) what a difficult position that can be to be in.  Seems like most of the time, in the churches I’ve been in over the years, I’ve been friends with the pastor’s wife at the church so have gotten glimpses that way.  With that stress as well as the situation with your daughter, wow….you have to be leaning heavily on the Lord and not your own understanding.  I so look forward to meeting you one day, sweet friend.  I don’t comment a lot, like I said, but I do read your comments (as well as others) even though I don’t always comment back a lot and I appreciate you all.

      1. Mary, being friends with a pastor’s wife cannot always be easy and I love that you have done that – empathizing and encouraging them. You have such a sensitive, sympathizing spirit! I also look forward to meeting you face to face one day. 

        1. Diane, if it is the place Jackie says below (Strasburg, PA) I’m 6 hours from there…but if I feel as good next August as I do right now I’d be willing to make that drive!  3 hours, then lunch, then 3 more, no problem! 😀  

    2. Diane, you are such a gift to me personally, and I know to us all. I smiled reading “I am not sure any of us will be able to meet this side of heaven” because honestly, just recently I was thinking about that reality–and then I remembered something you had said once about ‘spending eternity together in heaven’– and that thought brought real tears to my eyes. To know I WILL one Day meet you all, and hug you and fellowship with you FOREVER! “Blessed assurance…”

      1. Sweet Lizzy, I have not given up completely on seeing you and other friends here THIS side of heaven, but it will have to be in a God’s time that, at this point, He knows. There is a possibility that next year we will be travelling to Pennsylvania to see a “Light and Sound” show. Any chance you can travel to Pennsylvania in July or August next year?

        1. Diane, I live in central, Ohio, if I’m doing okay this time next year, I maybe could meet you in Pennsylvania! 😀  Will have to keep that in mind for next year.

    3. Mary, I couldn’t reply to your post. I would LOVE to see you next year. All plans are very tentative yet, but we will see as time goes on. Have any of you seen “Sight and Sound” or is it “Light and Sound” in Pennsylvania? It is a live Christian theatre with real animals and such that friends of ours really love.

      1. Diane, what part of Pennsylvania? Pittsburgh (west) or Philadelphia (east)? Or, middle? I think I have heard of this theatre before and would love to go to that! 

      2. Diane – I have had MANY opportunities to go to this with friend  – and have never done so!  If it’s the one I’m thinking of it’s in Strasburg, PA, which is very close to Lancaster, PA (Amish country).  I live just over an hour from there!  🙂  

      3. Diane, I have wanted to visit the “Sight & Sound” theater in Lancaster for years! Please keep me in mind if you ladies go next year!

    4. Diane…we are all so blessed to have you here, to know you, to pray for you…you’ve been through terrible storms yet you inspire us as we see you continue to hang onto your faith. I’m so glad to hear of Krista’s plans to study this Fall!

    5. About “Sight and Sound”: it is in Amish country, Lancaster county, I think. I don’t know more than that on the specific city/location. I’ll get more information from my friends. It might be an idea about some of us going to it together. My friends rave about it. This year they went to “Joseph” and said it was a really spiritually moving experience.

      1. I am also not too far from Strasburg, PA…my two sons went there last summer as there is a railroad museum there and you can take a ride on a steam engine. Since they were small, I took them all over the place to see trains, especially the steam ones and developed an interest in them myself. My daughter also would love to visit Lancaster as she loves going to places where the Amish live!

        1. OK, 9 hours for me–but y’all are worth a good road trip! 😉

    6. My heart wells up thinking about God leading you here Diane just before entering a season of trial. You have been such a blessing here, you add so much depth to our discussions.

      I would love to out the theatre date on the calendar. The drive is long from here, over 5 hours. But I see it is near Philadelphia where our dear friends have moved, so we can have even more reason to make that trip 🙂
      Hershey PA also isn’t far away.

      1. Oh, Chris. I would LOVE to meet you!! I hope this “Sight and Sound” event works out!

  14. I guffawed (out loud no less!) at Chris’ comment about the dread of watching the video, and still have yet to watch it! I TOTALLY get what you feel Chris! I dread watching myself but I do think I have a gift to offer others from God.
    I have been taking the headstone to my parents grave in Florida today. I will post a picture on our FB page; it is lovely. 

    1. lol

  15. Yet, though we should not be “Fairweather Friends,”  I also think we must give grace when friends let us down in the storm, for we all have feet of clay or are facing our own storms. Proverbs 19:11 says it is to a man’s glory “to overlook an offense.”    This stands out to me just now as I started to read a bit more into the text of the lesson. And I appreciate these words.  Just last night, I felt some guilt creep over me, when I realized again that two dear friends had gone through some difficult times this past year, and I really did nothing to encourage them.  Sometimes, I feel like I spend a lot of my energy sending cards, and trying to do things to encourage others and then other times, I get SO overwhelmed that I realize that I dropped the ball, even for a long time, close friend.  I think part of this, is that, unlike years past, we know almost everything in real time now, with all the social media options.  Years ago, we would only know what someone would tell us by phone and that didn’t include news about such a wide array of people.  Another thing I struggle with.  How can I express how much I truly do care about people without getting completely drained in the process?  I had a bit of a meltdown this weekend, feeling like most all of what I’ve done lately has been for others  and my emotional tank is hitting empty.   Seems there’s either feelings of guilt, being overwhelmed or feeling like I’ve done what I should but feeling completely spent.  Any thoughts about how to better live in balance? 

    1.   What stood out to you from the above and why?  
    All I could really say after reading Dee’s introduction here and your comments was, “Wow!” I did not realize that some of you have not been on the blog for a really loonnggg time! When I started following the blog last fall, I thought I kind of stumbled into a very closely knit group of neat, Christian women that has been in the making for many, many years. It was not hard for me to say, “I want  in!” to myself.
    Although, my job kept me from commenting much at the very start, I longed for the fellowship and the wonderful exchange of lessons learned from the Word and from all of you.  And I never thought that it was possible to experience godly, nurturing friendship in a place like this. God is very much at work here and He is not bound by space nor time!
    I love:
     The three cord strand illustration-Jesus is the cord that holds us together.
     The video of Laura, Susan and Chris-beautiful! I sang along with the video and had goose bumps almost feeling like I was in that very room. Holy ground wherever we are when we sing to the Lord!
    2.   Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
    This blog had been a haven during the stormy months of May, June, July for me and my family. When I was in the Philippines and often alone in my hotel room, the prayers and concern you all had extended through the blog and FB page warmed my aching heart and refreshed my tired body. You were the “friends that stick closer than a brother!”
    Today at church, my pastor and husband, Richard read Romans 1 and when he read vs. 11-12, I thought of all of you in this blog. I thank you for your friendship and your ministry of encouragement from a distance. Wherever you live,  however far it is, I feel a kinship with you that can only come from the “third strand” of our friendship cord.
    “ I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—  that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

  17. Wow… I came across this site only today (I’d been at a women’s conference which looked at the book of Ruth- while most people see it as a love story between Boaz & Ruth, I’d always viewed it as a deep friendship between Naomi & Ruth). The speaker was Jenny Salt, and when I googled her she came up in a link to this site…& I recognised Dee’s name from her books on the friendship of women I’d read many years before.
    When I was younger I had the Ecclesiastes 4vs9-12 “two are better than one” once again I didn’t see it as being about marriage, but friendship. I have an older sister who has a mental disability, and an emotionally unavailable mother (long story), and I didn’t live near relatives… it has been a constant battle my entire adult life to find loyal & consistent friends… the ability for women to abandon or renegade friendships to the back-burner when they get a boyfriend or marry has made women on the whole untrustworthy.
    Wanda’s comment about reciprocal friendship is something I’ve had to think a lot about… as I’ve remained single into my 30’s the single message I’ve been sent is to support others but not expect anything back. That became a painful reality about 6 years ago when I went through depression & got very little support- basically I wasn’t someone’s sister, daughter or best friend so what was offered was so limited. 
    At some point in time I came across this is Psalm 39vs 11 … “When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us” I realised I’d made an idol out of friendship, and as long as I saw friendships as something I HAD to have, I was putting them before God (other’s view marriage the same way I think). I learnt in those years to rely on God, and that while people are important & relationships shouldn’t be minimised, neither should they be expected to meet all my needs- and sometimes they can’t meet any. God did bring support, and some amazing friends. But the whole “bosom buddy”, may be something that I will never have because it is too much of a temptation for me to put them before God.  I think I will have to settle for many friends (although that feels like my life is in little pieces), and work on being a better friend.

    1. Welcome Lynette. I was struck by your comment “That became a painful reality about 6 years ago when I went through depression & got very little support- basically I wasn’t someone’s sister, daughter or best friend so what was offered was so limited” and to see how instead of becoming bitter and angry from your situation,  your eyes were opened to deepening your relationship to God. What hope for others you’ve shared!

      1. Dawn – I wish that I had seen your entry before asking Lynette about the very same comment!  You expressed so beautifully how the Lord can bridge that gap! 

    2. Welcome Lynette!  I so love the humble boldness of your initial entry into our conversation here.  🙂  You have shared so much that so many will relate deeply to.  There is such a refreshing personal openness and precious Scriptural depth and wisdom for us to ponder.  Thank You!  I see a passion for the Word in you and I look forward to being spurred on by your sharing!  

    3. Lynette – I was particularly moved by this:  “….I wasn’t someone’s sister, daughter or best friend, so what was offered was so limited.” I’m intrigued by this and wonder what you mean exactly?  I ask because I’d really like to be a BETTER friend to my friends in their time of need…..and I wonder if I sometimes fall (I’m sure I do!) into the category of “limiting” what I offer.  ?  

    4. Lynette,
      Welcome to this safe place.   I’m so glad that you stumbled on to the blog, just as I did about 14 months ago.   Thank you for your heartfelt, honest words here.    I look forward to interacting with you in this place.    

    5. welcome Lynette–glad you’re here with us!

    6. Welcome Lynette! This is a good place 🙂 I’m glad you are here!

    7. Welcome, Lynette. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and I think you’ll find this a safe place for sharing. You give some amazing insight about the danger of falling into idolatry in friendhip, something I’ve also struggled with.

    8. Welcome, Lynette! The fellowship here is sweet.

  18. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? 
    Smothering a friendship.
    Years ago a very close friend announced she was moving to a different part of the world. I was devastated. I felt like someone died. After awhile the pain went away, and I realized I was too close. I recovered and vowed to not do that again. It was unhealthy.
    2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog. 
    Its very difficult to choose just one time; one friend. I think I would have to say that the general acceptance of all the participants on this blog is overwhelming. I am accepted for me here. Thank you friends! You have blessed me for over 4-5 years now! 

  19. 2. Share one epecific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
    As Laura said, it’s so hard to choose just one…I think of a couple of weeks ago when Lizzy’s post seemed to put into words things that I’ve felt, too, and then it was the same for one  of Wanda’s posts…that “You, too?” Laura dancer’s posts often feel refreshing because she just has a way of “saying it like it is”.  I feel refreshed here because I have things on my mind and heart that I have no one to share with, face-to-face, but I can share them here, and know that I have a voice here, will be listened to, and be understood. Because I live in a family in which the majority do not share my faith, this is huge for me; to just feel validated for what I believe.

    1. Susan–“me too!” to this post! I can’t pinpoint just one specific answer because I feel so blessed by all of us, and refreshed in some way every time I get the chance to really ponder here. But as you said, there are those special moments when I read your words, or Rebecca’s, Jackie’s–actually, He uses each one of our sisters here–and I feel that sense of being understood–something I longed for so, so long. I’m so glad you’re here, Susan. I wish we were on a walk right now, talking–but I’m really thankful we have this strange cyber-link that allows us to fellowship through computers..thanks to our amazingly creative God! Love how He has used technology for His purposes and to bless us all!

  20. 3. Have you been holding onto an offense because a friend let you down in a storm? Can you release it, to your glory?
    I’m struggling with this right now. I had already decided that this friendship must have been for a season, though the season was about 14 years. It’s a friend that I was there for during the illnesses and deaths of her loved ones, as well as her own personal health crises. She was also there for me when I lost a loved one several years ago. But then it began to feel like she never had time to talk; we actually rarely saw each other. Phone calls began to be replaced by texts…that’s just not personal to me. I am walking through the aging and declining of my parents and my mom’s Alzheimer’s and she dropped off the scene a while ago. I finally decided to let it go, and stopped trying to contact her. After several months went by, I got a casual text from her, and I was surprised by the anger I felt. I decided not to reply as I really feel the friendship is beyond repair at this point, and too much has happened in my life to try to play “catch-up”, and I doubt that if I did reply to the text that anything would be different. But I do feel hurt that she hasn’t been there for me like I was there for her, and the hurt, I realized, has turned into resentment. I thought I was okay with it until I received that text and it stirred up a lot of negative feelings.
    I have confessed my anger and resentment to the Lord and I know I need to release it…do you mean, though, it will be for HIS glory, not mine? If I can let go of these feelings, it will only be because of His power enabling me to do it.

  21. 2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
     I do feel a special kindred with Lizzy, Chris and Susan for we have also been together face to face. I have tons but one recent example is this morning when I woke up and read Susan’s encouraging note. She refreshed me so and especially so because she is SO full of His Love.

  22. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? That we can’t just tell ourselves to stop it when we are crossing over the line from friendship to idolatry, but we have to allow Him to be the only One we expect to never let us down. I hope that I can learn how to do this. I had a difficult time getting it through my head that God didn’t let me down when my friendships went south, but that He was doing what REALLY needed to be done.
    2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.  There have been so many times by so many people that it’s hard to pick just one, but one that stands out to me is when Chris commented on something that I was struggling with. Her comment was exactly what I had been sensing that the Lord was  already telling me. I hadn’t said anything on the blog about the “sensing” part so I knew that Chris was speaking truth and confirming what I needed to hear.

    1. I do love you Dawn, and I echo Dee, I am glad you didn’t escape!

      I encourage you to begin to risk connecting with those in your local church family. To trust God enough to risk trusting them. You have much to share and much to gain!

  23. My sons used to jokingly refer to the ladies on the blog as my “imaginary friends”. But after I made plans and actually went through with them to meet some of you in Ohio and spend the entire day actually talking to people I’ve never met face to face with (I don’t even talk to the people in my church unless they start the conversation) they see that we are truly friends here.
    I have to admit that I brought my husband along as my escape excuse and I thought that I was going to skip Saturday evening, but after I met everyone at the conference not only was I looking forward to getting together later, but wished that I had been there Friday night, too!

    1. Dawn – I love how you shared about your sons’ referring to us all as “imaginary”!  I find that in conversation with others I might start to share about my “friend”…..and then maybe kind of clarify with “my friend I’ve never met” and then I just sigh and give up!  What the Spirit is doing here is not easily dropped into casual conversations!  What most people have in mind is the whole “FB friends” , which may or may not be someone you “know”!  I have invited several friends to join in here or even follow along silently – easier than trying to explain!!  🙂  

      1. I have the same thoughts.  I even came into this experience, not expecting the people to be real.  Or maybe, hoping I wouldn’t have to be accountable to real people!  But, the real-ness flows from the love and grace here.   I am always saying,  ‘Jackie, from MD, on the blog’ , Mary from Ohio, on the blog’  etc. when I talk to my husband or my close friends here.   I have to say, that I actually have experienced this with facebook friends too.  I call them facebook friends, because they may have been acquaintances pre-facebook (like people from my past, that I would never have thought to look up; we had so little interaction when we lived in the same town) but now we have had very meaningful conversations  via getting reconnected on facebook.  The meaningful connections usually happen through private messages, but I would not have sought these people out were it not for facebook.  In most cases, they saw my name floating around and sent a friend request.  I started out being very picky about whose requests I would accept.  I read their bios and if it seemed we would conflict in values, politics, beliefs, I didn’t always accept. (unless we really did have a relationship in real life).  I tried to understand why some would send a request.  I know some just like to add anyone/everyone they know.  But I also realized that sometimes, I meant more to a former acquaintance than I realized.  I also have sent requests to people who may have been surprised to receive it,  because they meant more to me than they may have known.  Many of my facebook friends are real friends now because of the re-connection.   

    2. oh Dawn–I used to differentiate between you blog friends here and my “real life” friends! Until one day it hit me just how MUCH you all have come to mean to me–so now I just refer to you by name, “my friend Dawn said…”…but then every once in a while someone will ask ‘oh, where does she live?’ and I draw a blank and realize I have no idea, and I have to break down and say–“well, I’ve never actually seen her….”! ;0

      1. I’m from Michigan 🙂

    3. I’m so proud of you for making plans and going through with them, Dawn!  I have to say, I can get pretty daunted myself, thinking of doing this.  It was so fun to sit back and watch the plans happen and see pictures and hear reports!  My kids would be pretty surprised if I up and went to meet some of my blog friends too.  🙂  

    4. Too funny dawn! Sarah said, “Mom, you’re not supposed to meet with friends you meet online!”

    5. Dawn…love your post! Ah yes, “confessions”, as Dee said:)) I’m so glad you were brave and that you came to Ashland, and we are no longer imaginary friends! That evening at the B&B was very special; one I’ll never forget.

  24. 2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
    When I came on to the blog I was in such a dark place.
    I had been too much alone in my grief and doubt.  I don’t think I imagined the women here as real people at first, if that makes sense. 
    My story seemed so out of the ordinary, that I imagined people would think I made it up. I imagined that my troubles were too many… my mess to tangled and deep, that no one would want to enter in.
    I was treated gently and lovingly by many, but who stood out to me first was Elizabeth. She would remember what I had shared and ask me questions. I began to trust her, that she really was praying for me. It kept me coming back. I am weeping as I recall these things.

    God has mightily used this place, Dee’s heart and teaching, and you my blog sisters to lead me back from a place of despair to solid ground and hope.
    I can’t adequately express how much this has meant to me.

    1. Weeping right back to you Chris–OH what a GIFT you are. You are one who was a true sister to me from the moment I “met” you. I feel like a magnet to you (not in an idolatrous way!), but your raw, real-ness, your humility–it is what my soul craves to become and it is that quality in you that He SHINES through. You have lived out  “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (phil 1:21) before us–OH cannot put into words what I learn from you. Your name comes up regularly–quoting your wisdom. And my husband traveled with me through reading through news reports and all the turmoil–he was as drawn as I, and I know that is Christ in you. So it encourages me, all of us–to press into Him always and allow His ways to make me who He had in mind when He first thought of me. You are becoming that woman and it is so beautiful, inspiring, to see. 

    2. Chris,  I wanted to say too, that after Beth mentioned reading the stories online about your tragic and terrible loss, I did the same.  I was once again astonished by the depth of your pain and the depth of your character and love.   I also shared some of it with my husband and my friend here.  I smile, contemplatively at the thought of you wondering if we would think you made it all up.  We are a company of real people with so much real pain.  Yet, we hold each other up at the feet of Jesus.  

      1. Truly truly God has used this as a place of refuge for me. Your prayers and patience have put me on ground more solid than any I had known before. The picture of the lighthouse keeps coming to mind. That I could contemplate truth and my suffering sitting in my own living room, a bawling mess, and yet be in community with you all has been priceless. I have expressed things here i know I could not have verbalized face to face. Thank you all for letting me be in process. 

        1. Chris, I’ve done the same thing “…contemplate truth and my suffering sitting in my own living room, a bawling mess…I have expressed things here i know I could not have verbalized face to face.” 
          Your suffering is much greater than mine and your willingness to share with us your weaknesses and inevitably God’s strength is more encouraging to me than I can ever put into words! <3

    3. Chris, I remember when you first came here and remember how God, pretty much daily, prompted me to pray for you. I remember thinking, Lord you have plans for her in this! Then I see how God is moving in you..all the steps of faith you have taken, all the times you let go and clung and then I got to meet you and I was blown away by your humility and strength. I cherish that time.

  25. Welcome to Lynette!    Your words also struck me.  Feeling like friends have left you on the back burner when they have a boyfriend or get married.  And your loving support of others but not expecting anything back. Those experiences can be so difficult and draining.   It did make me sad to read that you went through very dark days with very little support. I am so sorry and hope you have better support now.  Thanks for mentioning my comments about reciprocal or non reciprocal friendships.  I can see how you clearly have struggled with these, especially in the love you’ve shown your mentally handicapped sister.  I resonate with some of that feeling, (though I have no doubt that you have carried a heavier load.)   I was thinking this through a little more after I read your comments this morning.  I think I have a half a dozen of these ‘non reciprocal’ friendships and I truly wonder sometimes how to keep them going, being a true friend to them, without burning myself out.  Not all of them are physically close, so it’s not an every day thing for me.   If anyone has resources that address these kinds of relationships, I’d love to know.    
    Blessings to you, Lynette.  I’m glad you’ve joined us!

    1. Wanda – I’m puzzling over picturing a half dozen “non-reciprocal” friendships and I wonder how each of them looks and how you were drawn into these friendships?  Does it seem to you that it is the Lord Himself who has called you into friendship with these dear ones?  I’m also wondering if He might be gently using this week’s study and so much  of the invaluable sharing with regard to friendships to maybe lighten your load a little?  Could it be that you are remaining committed to these friendships when the Lord is releasing you from them?  Or from some of them?  Susan shared so eloquently about the “seasons” of friendships and learning to let go…..and repenting of anger and resentment too!  🙂  I thought her words were golden.  Jesus’ tender words in Matt 11:28-30 might be just for YOU today.  If I’m reading the context of Jesus’ words correctly here, He is referring to the legalistic burdens that others endeavor to load us down with sometimes…..but don’t we load ourselves down with burdens He never meant for us to carry too?  You have such an earnestness about you Wanda – I’ve been deeply attracted to that, as I feel it’s lack in my own life.  I have looked to you (Christ IN you!) more than you know to ask the Lord to keep tenderizing my own heart as He surely has done for you.  But I wonder if sometimes we put on shackles in the name of faithfulness to others…..when the Lord is desiring us to find rest for our souls.  I know you’ve commented on how hard change can be.  But I’ve also noted your passion for nature and the changing seasons…..could it be that He is showing you (and me – I’m a HUGE nature girl!  )  that it’s ok.  Change is in His hands.  And throughout it all….His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  🙂  Just some thoughts.  Would love to hear Dee’s thoughts on what you are calling “non-reciprocal” friendships.  

      1. Jackie, your comments here to Wanda are really good. Thinking about “but don’t we load ourselves down with burdens He never meant for us to carry too?” And I agree with you about the character quality of “earnestness” that you see in Wanda – I see it too. This is just interesting stuff to ponder…is it necessary, at times, that we continue to labor to keep relationships that are completely non-reciprocal? Not thinking here of the times when a friend is too wounded to reciprocate, but needs our love and care to get them back on their feet, but rather those who make little effort on their part to maintain the friendship.

        1. Another good distinction, Susan.   Some of our relationships are with people who are too wounded (or not emotionally or mentally very capable) to give back or make deposits into the friendship.  In those situations, I think we are often called on to extend love and mercy with no expectations of a return.  That seems to be where I’ve been struggling.  May have too many of those.  But I probably drop the ball myself, if I’ve tried to go deeper in a relationship with someone who just doesn’t seem to welcome it.  Thinking of someone right now. She is a mutual friend of many of my friends from our former church.  But I’ve never had a comfort level with her as I don’t see her grab on to any of my initiations of friendship/conversation.  I decided awhile ago, not to worry about it and just realize that not everyone in a circle of people will click as friends on their own.

  26. 2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.     Sorry, but I don’t want to single out any one time, because the love and encouragement of so many has been refreshing to me at one time or another.  I’d feel remiss if I tried to mention just one!  But I will say, that last Thanksgiving, I felt compelled to share with the three of our kids (out of 7 including spouses) who were with us, how participating in the Bible study blog here, for the previous 9 months had been life changing.  I told them I rarely called something ‘life changing’ but this fit.  I was a bit taken aback when  my daughter in law asked me to explain why.  I’m not sure I could relay to her, my feelings very well.  Especially since a lot of how I have been refreshed has been through those of you who carry the same burden as I do, of adult children who have walked away from the Lord.  I don’t want this to be my focal point or what I’m known for but it does have a huge impact on the lens through which I view a lot.  Many of you, here have given me love, much encouragement, prayed for us and shared some wonderful resources. It IS refreshing. The other ways I have been so refreshed have been through Dee’s teaching and the resources she shares.  The Psalms study and beginning to see Christ there as well as learning to pray the psalms swept over me like a refreshing breeze.  I love revisiting those places.

  27. Wanda – I missed your earlier clarification about the one friend who is mentally disabled – that one friendship might not fit at all into what I was musing about.  Another astute observation you made was the reality of social media in our daily lives – so interesting to me today as I am ATTEMPTING from today throughout the month of August to “fast” from FB!!  I find I simply MUST do this from time to time.  Once I’ve made the plunge it is unbelievably FREEING!!  I know that I will be missing some prayer requests and other very important things by doing so…..but I have to trust that the Lord will bring those who need prayer to my mind as He wills….or He will allow others to carry the prayer burden for a season !  

    1. Your earlier thoughts in reply to mine, which I really appreciate, made me think too.  Some of these friendships are somewhat seasonal, like one person with a LOT of needs, who has since moved away from my area.   But I don’t want to be that ‘flash in the pan’ friend either.  So, now our contact IS mostly through facebook, once in awhile a phone call or note.  Others, like the mentally handicapped woman, have come back into my sphere after decades of absence.  This is the woman who lived a block away from me when we were children and my parents reached out to them.  I heard from her off and on over the years, but we were back in touch in earnest less than 2 years ago.  We had a reunion, with two other classmates, last Spring and we are getting together again this coming wknd.  She is also bringing her friend who has Downs Syndrome.  They are over the moon excited to have this time with us. We tried to get together earlier this summer and it fell through and there were tears.  (and guilt on my part)  She’s the one who calls frequently.  One of my friends lives in the same town and goes to the same church as these two do, so she can easily get overburdened.  It’s true that some others are prominent because I have been re-connected on facebook.  A single woman, 3X divorced who is going through advanced cancer,  (long distance, so not too much I can do except notes, prayer and keeping contact), my neighbor who lost her husband last winter (our personalities are light years apart.  I don’t feel a natural friendship but feel compelled by scripture and my own heart to keep making opportunities to visit.  Don’t think I’ve done too well at this actually.)  My very dysfunctional neighbor across the road who I just actually talked to for the first time.  I know, you ‘get it’.  You mentioned the difficult ‘horse woman’ with whom you regularly interact.  Over the years, there are many others that either my husband or I have tried to befriend and care for.  I do get what you’re saying about maybe needing to let go sometimes.  I tell my close friend, Peg, that all the time!  We laugh sometimes, because people with over the top needs are drawn to her like a magnet.  And she always goes way out of her way to help.  It is her passion and her gift.  But as a close friend, I see how it burns her out too.   I keep reminding her that I don’t want to be one of HER non reciprocal friends!  (she assures me I am not!)  I think she always has a number of friends who call her number first when they are in crisis.  I think that with the measure of mercy we give to others, we have to expect a measure of sometimes feeling like we are not getting anything back in the relationship.  I know this is a whole other category of relationships.  So maybe it just doesn’t fit this week at all.   

      1. Wanda, this was a fascinating read for me and I appreciate you taking the time to paint this picture in response to my questions!  I do agree with your last few sentences that the kinds of relationships you are portraying here categorically different than the bosom friends or particularly the “cord of three strands friends” that we are studying here this week.  Still, they ARE relationships that are looming large in your life and well worth thinking through.  I love how you have drawn on the concept of mercy and how mercy does NOT think about being reciprocated!!  I think you are on to something here!  I know I tend to mention the same things over and over again here…..but I was SO blown away by the 8 week study our pastor did in our Sunday School class this spring on Biblical Mercy.  Oh my.  In so many ways it was different and more deeply layered than I had been  thinking!!  🙂  
        Just one last thought……I’ve spent a lot of the days of my life thinking that I should be “more like” some of my friends that I so admire.  When you mentioned your friend Peg my antennae started vibrating!!  But then it seemed like you have rich insight into the fact that Peg’s gifts and passions are different than your own!  I loved that and I wish I had been able to see that earlier in my walk with Christ.   It’s a beautiful thing in the body of Christ to be able to see and celebrate the different gifts that the Spirit has woven into the story.  For instance, for many, many years I have watched my friend Mary Lynn’s gift of hospitality blessing so many in a regular fashion…..it is simply “otherwordly”……finally, some years ago I came to a place of peace with knowing that what I was seeing in her life was the spiritual gift of hospitality.  Did that excuse me from the Scriptural command to be hospitable?  In no way.  But it DID free me up to be hospitable as the Spirit led and not compare my passion for or ease with hospitality to Mary Lynn’s!!  The way that the Spirit seems to bring opportunities for hospitality into my life are more of a “drop in” variety…..our years with working with animals and some of that being based here where we live has given many chances for offering a cup of coffee….visiting at the picnic table by the barn…..or maybe even offering the barn apt as a short term living space for someone who’s in a place of struggling…..you get the picture!  Peg is Peg and Wanda is Wanda – and you do seem to have that heart knowledge and wisdom helping you to make sense of the differences!  I love the way the Lord weaves those friendships into our lives (with those so very different than us!) and how it shows how very great and gracious He is!  

        1. Jackie,   You’ve given me some good distinctions here too.  And even my friend, Peg comes back to the verse  do good to others, especially the household of faith, as you have opportunity  because surely we don’t have opportunity for every person.  (I have heard someone use that verse as a defense of neglecting those in the world who are poor and needy because it says household of faith and boy, did that make my stomach turn.)  I’m not sure why Paul made the distinction there.  But clearly, we are called to care for all….but the Lord gives the opportunity.   I also think that I maybe use the term friends more loosely than some.  Maybe those relationships where we are constantly  the helper and there isn’t an exchange of friendship gestures etc, have another name.  I certainly don’t know what it would be though.  I do think we should strive for some kind of level of friendship with those to whom we minister.    Anyway,  I’ve said enough!  It does help me to think these things through though.  I do like Dee’s analogy of annuals and perennials.  Some friendships clearly are for a season.  And some will be more sporadic than an annual too.   Some may be very unpredictable.

  28. What stands out for me is the 3 ladies doing the motions to  ” Spirit of the Living God”. It is wonderful that some of you were able to travel and be together for Dee’s Seminar in Ohio.  Yes, God is at work through each of you ladies that I have met on the blog. As Wanda says I really don’t want to point any ones out because I truly have gained much from so many.
     The open honest sharing and the deep spiritual insights are so helpful for me. I love to get to know your stories and how God is at work through the struggles, the illnesses, the losses and He works  his love throughout. I am missing Renee presently and am praying for her health to improve.
    I struggle to keep up with each lesson and glean what I can and am blessed as I read the comments and sharing and am very thankful for this opportunity to interact. Each one is supportive and that is a blessing.

  29. 1.   What reflections do you have on the above?
    That I can never be to a friend what only Jesus can be and vice versa.
    To be dependent on God to be a true friend to my friends.
    I need to nurture my closest friendships.
    Dee, just curious why  you wrote middle circle for the three (Peter, James and John) and not mention an inner circle (would that be God the Father and the Holy Spirit)? Aaaawww…I feel awkward asking this.
    2.   What similarity do you see between Proverbs 18:24 and 20:6?
    True friends are not many in numbers for a lifetime since they take time to be discovered, cultivated and nurtured. I should be thankful for the friends God has brought into my life so far and for future ones as well! What a comfort to know, though that there is One Friend who will never leave me nor forsake me.

  30. 3. Have you been holding onto an offense because a friend let you down in a storm? Can you release it, to your glory? 
    So far I haven’t for I am a very hard person to offend and don’t hold things against people. I tend to forgive friends easily and quickly-even a desire to relieve them of the guilt they feel for not being able to be there for me.. BUT, here is my issue I can bend toward and it stinks. :(( I have had friends I desired to connect with on a deeper level who didn’t reciprocate so I blame myself thinking something is wrong with me which is a form of pride.

    Okay and yes it gets worse..If they choose to go closer with someone else who is also a friend of mine I not only wonder what was wrong with me but I am tempted to get jealous-rrggg. Either way I have forgotten Him in those moments not believing my Friend above all friends is in control-and I find the closer I am in intimacy with Him these things don’t bother me-I won’t fall to the jealousy temptation. He is the artist weaving the cords in His tapestry-not me! There is a good reason that friend didn’t choose me-GOD doesn’t have that friend planned in my life to draw closer at this season or maybe never. 🙂  

    1. Rebecca– “I tend to forgive”–this is one of the MANY things I so love about you and am so humbled & challenged by. It is the beauty of Christ in you–your humility, your truly applying the gospel–OH how I learn from your example! I was thanking Him for you just last night–and telling my husband (again) how you are just one of those rare people who, before I ever even got to see you face to face, I felt like I’d known you my whole life–even more, that you knew me. There are no walls with you, no rules or measuring up–there is this beautiful freedom in you that allows others to feel “free” and forgiven too. I just wish you were next door! 🙂

      1. Lizzy-I will NEVER forget that Elizabeth and Mary moment with you when I first saw you at the airport..My heart flipped and there was NO awkwardness at all which is rare with me upon first meeting. 🙂 It was His tie in us that binds and like I have known you forever. YES I wish you were next door too!! I love when Dee wrote about her and Leslie in Idol Lies…they saw they were a good friendship fit..I feel that way about you my friend and sister. 

    2. This is so true what you bring out here, Rebecca, “I find the closer I am in intimacy with Him these things don’t bother me..”  I also could learn much from your quickness to forgive; I tend to be the one who holds onto an offense. Ick.

      1. Susan and Lizzy-I have to hurry for I need to get ready for work, but I wanted to say…I learn from you both how not to be so hard on myself. 🙂 Honestly, I think holding on to an offense is no worse beating yourself up for just being you and that is what I struggle with. I think it is pride and from my approval idol and my past. I am seeing a counselor which is REALLY helping. She told me yesterday after I asked her what she sees. She said, “you are thoughtful, kind, and very faithful..BUT you are way too hard on yourself.” It is idolatry and I am can so easily bend toward that especially when I am starting something new-like this new job. 🙂 Sorry so long but have to go. 🙂 I love you both!

  31. 4. What reflections do you have on the above?
    I loved your prayer, and the answer! God providing comfort through the hands and feet of those who belong to him, it is a sweet picture.

    Rather than holding onto a wound from someone who has let me down I have a couple people in my life who I feel are offended with me for disappointing them. The stories are complex and while I don’t feel as if I have sinned against these people, it grieves me that they feel as they do. I will pray and see what God lays on my heart.
    I love the value placed on the ladies here and the freedom!

  32. 4. What reflections do you have on the above?
    I went back to my notes from last week’s sermon…A man of many companions may come to ruin – Keller said that the “many companions” can be the group of people classified as acquaintances, or associates. So I don’t think that it necessarily means friends who only pretend to be friends, though some may do that. In my own life, I “know” a lot of people, but I don’t think of them as friends. I can run into them at the gym, or the store, and have a nice conversation; maybe even an occasional get-together for a cup of coffee, but we don’t approach a depth of intimacy in any way. I think Keller said that these people aren’t really invested in you, as he said that a true friend will do everything in his power to not let you come to ruin because he is emotionally invested in you. The acquaintance-type person may want to know you because you’re useful to them, or you help them get to know other people, but when you’re going through a trial, they say, “Call me if you need anything.”
    …but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother – Keller said this is a true friend, and while a family member may be there for you when you need them, out of family loyalty, they may not really like you or enjoy hanging out with you. A true friend is loyal in hard times and has chosen you; chooses to be with you because they enjoy your companionship. At this stage of my life, I seem to have more acquaintances than close friends. In my Sunday school class, we’ll have occasional get-togethers outside of church, such as going out to lunch after church or a few of us going to dinner and a movie. It’s fun and we enjoy the time together, but I don’t have any personal contact with these women outside of that and seeing them on Sundays. The women who are older and widowed stick together, the young, single or divorced women stick together, and there’s only about five of us who are married. We have an opportunity at our church to sign-up to be mentored, and I’ve thought about it but after all this I’m kind of afraid to do it; what if I get paired with someone and we just don’t have much in common (ok-except the Lord); as Keller said, a friendship has to be “discovered”? Though maybe a mentoring relationship isn’t supposed to be like a friendship?

    1. Though maybe a mentoring relationship isn’t supposed to be like a friendship?

      Susan, this struck a nerve with me this morning too.  Maybe that is the word I’m looking for in some of my non reciprocal relationships.  Though it doesn’t fit all the time either.  My husband is a mentor to several (casually; seems people just come to him)  and he doesn’t seem to need the deposits back into the friendship.  He seems to feel fulfillment in seeing his mentees blossom and grow.  That said, I think right now, he is lonely as he has been feeling the loss of a friend who seems to have gone in another direction and then, our church change has affected his ability to connect as often with his deeper friends.    I was a mentor for 6 years for a school student.  She graduated this year and went into the military and we have no contact now, since she is in basic training.  The program was called Friends Make a Difference and was designed to just come alongside and visit once a month (more, if you wanted to make arrangements) and on some levels, I feel we do have a friendship.  Though it is a very different kind of friendship than the ones we are speaking of this week.  I had a Steven’s Minister who came alongside me when I was in some emotional deep waters.  Because, some of my heartache came from my job (which was working on staff at my church), the Steven’s Ministry at church, thought it best for me to have a Steven’s minister meet with me who came from another local church.  It turned out to be a sort of awkward relationship.  I liked her.  I could talk with her easily but because she had zero background of who I was, I didn’t feel a huge level of trust or wanting to bare my soul to her.  If you signed up to be mentored, you may have a really good experience too.  I expect that you could bow out if you felt it wasn’t a good fit.  On the other hand,  Susan, I also think you would BE a great mentor to younger woman who struggle with things that you have gone through.  

  33. 5. What similarity do you see between Proverbs 18:24 and 20:6?
    Both describe the contrast between casual acquaintances and true friends, and both verses use the word “many”, so this happens a lot, that you can know a lot of people, and there can be false, superficial expressions of loyalty, “Many a man claims to have unfailing love…” perhaps not even really false, but well-meaning expressions of care and concern but there’s really nothing to back it up. I’ve been guilty of this myself, if I’m honest. Someone I know casually tells me about something they’re going through and I do feel badly for them, I express my concern, but I don’t really do anything; I may say a prayer for them but honestly I often forget all about the matter.

  34. 7. In contrast, read Proverbs 19:22. What do you think this means? I liked the Amplified Bible here:     “ That which is desired in a man is loyalty and kindness [and his glory and delight are his giving], but a poor man is better than a liar. “
    I think it means God’s desire for us is to be genuine in our kindness and our loyalty, not to be checking off boxes to make ourselves feel justified.
    I thought of 1 Corinthians 13.   I need to gut check my motivations. If I am not moving towards people in love, I need to pray for my heart of stone to be made soft.

  35. Wow… My e-mail was over run… thanks for the warm welcome, I feel like I’ve just made a louder entrance than I intended.

    Dawnms “instead of becoming bitter and angry from your situation” … ah I wish that was so… I actually moved churches over it. I was depressed, then discouraged, then angry & then bitter… the irony being that most of the women I was friends with in my church were so preoccupied with their own lives they didn’t even know how depressed I was until I became bitter (which was actually a healthy sign of recovering from depression), then they were all over me with advice (some apologised & were appalled that they hadn’t helped, others were angry at me for my attitude) . It was a 6yr process start to finish. Where I am now is a different community- I don’t mean better, it focuses on different things, and because of that I fit in more easily.
    Forgiveness has been a tricky issue- I guess I view forgiveness as something related to an actual (rather than perceived) offence. So I didn’t feel the need to forgive many of the women who failed to support me, as they were unaware of how ill I was, but I have struggled to forgive those who responded in ways that minimised or dismissed me. Trusting them again is another issue altogether.
    Jackie r – “….I wasn’t someone’s sister, daughter or best friend, so what was offered was so limited.” I’m intrigued by this and wonder what you mean exactly? What I realised was that because everyone has limited time, obligations & resources, how that was spent tended to fall into 2 categories- loved ones & “big needs” ie. charity, serious illnesses, death, birth of a baby etc- usually things that are dramatic in the sort term. I think we are all drawn to the “excitement” of something that is short but captivating. Finding people who will be part of the mundane difficulties of life is quite different. I didn’t fit either category, so no one was compelled to help.
    Even though the book has been around for years I hadn’t read “the five love languages”. But it helped me to clarify some of the issues related to friendship. I’m not a “gift” or “affirmation” person- both as giving & receiving I’m a “acts of service” & “quality time” person- 2 things that are hard for busy people to give- particularly if they are married, have kids & working. It took a while, but I’ve learnt to be more gracious about how someone shows their love- it’s very likely I’ve underestimated what what offered in support because I was wanting and needing practical help more than anything else. I’ve had to think over many things, and I hope I’ve learned from them.
    Wanda- The non-reciprocal aspect come up a lot  in my life when I consider the way in which friendships are measured I guess. What is expected of a friend? Some people are draining physically, mentally & emotionally, but others I really enjoy, but I’ve learned they are really so self-focused or struggling deeply that I would be unrealistic or unfair to except reciprocation. I know I have friends where I’m the one who fails to reciprocate well.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely blog with me- I’ll be back but probably not for a few days or more. I’m in Western Australia, and have just started a new semester at university (I’m studying social work) so I have a lot to do.

    1. Lynette, I see you live in Western Australia…we have another blogger, Kerryn, who posted earlier this week, who also lives in Australia. Saying a prayer for you this morning that the start of your school semester goes well!

  36. Such wisdom from what Susan, Wanda, and Jackie have shared. I often feel like a “magnet” for those who are not just needy, but who tend to develop an unhealthy dependency on our friendship. But it’s happened so often, that I wonder if I just have such a fear of being overly depended on, that I feel it’s unhealthy and pull away. I do have a few “failed” friendships, all with a common thread. I start to feel suffocated and like I can’t meet their expectations, and they feel like I’m not available enough. I love to help and give, and I have several friends where their is a good balance. In the past I would serve out of an approval idol & then be resentful, so I have learned to really check my motive & say no when I should. But with some, I start to feel their expectations on me, and I disappoint them. After a while, the maintenance feels like too much.I think there is probably a mix of my own selfishness and, maybe, a healthy desire for boundaries. 

    All that said, I want to go back to Rebecca. Not trying to put her on a pedestal, and she’d never want that, just using her as an example. I know I will be friends with Rebecca the rest of my life–whether I see her again, or only email every so often. With Rebecca, their isn’t an expectation I have to live up to. I can share anything and not be judged. I don’t have to worry with her, she is a “low-maintenance” friend.

    I have so much to learn from her–but I think the key is her humility and her ability to forgive. Both I think come from the fact that she really is first filled up with Him. She knows He is her source, and friends are a gift on top, but not THE gift. Still processing this week, I have a lot to learn on women friendships, but God is showing me more and more of the forms my pride can take, and how key forgiveness is to really living in community with one another.

    *OH–and I 100% agree with Wanda, Susan–you should sign up to BE one of the mentors rather than be mentored. I’m not sure I’ve met anyone with such a compassionate, listening heart–and you have weathered so many emotional storms, and continue to be “like a tree planted by streams of water”

    1. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that you are a magnet for people with big needs, Lizzy.  They see in you what we see.  So much love and compassion.  Blessings as you navigate through those sometimes, very difficult relationships.  

      1. wanda, you amaze me how the Lord uses you. I posted the above just before leaving and then was worrying that it sounded harsh…so I prayed and then here I am at target, checking and you have been His blessing to me, so thankfull for your graciousness–more for me to learn from in you!

  37. Lynette,    Quick reply here.  Thanks for clarifying.  Just want to say that you appear to be a very wise thirty-something.  Sadly, I have seen others go through the kind of let down you had when you felt others did not come alongside you in practical ways.  You articulated it so well in saying that people’s time is usually spent between loved ones and people with big needs.  That is a very insightful statement.   What you have brought up, staying beside someone for the day to day, long term,  is truly something we need to work on as members of the body of Christ.  We have a daughter with cystic fibrosis.  She is almost 30.  When she was little, she was in the hospital several times, and people were extremely generous  in their care and support.  But we observed, even then, that the older children in the hospital, the ones who had been there a zillion times, no longer had any balloons at the foot of their bed, nor visitors coming regularly.  The hospitalizations and the ongoing needs had become mundane. I realized early on, (when I was in my thirties actually) that the hardest parts of life were not the deep, dramatic crises but living with something difficult day after day after day.   And even my example, carries some of the ‘dramatic’ with it.  There are other needs; day to day needs with much less fanfare.   And they are often overlooked or people don’t persevere for the long haul.  I think you will bring a lot to the social work field.  Blessings as you begin your semester!  

  38. Susie–thinking of you too this week, and your missing old friends in your new location–hope all is well. 

  39. 4. What reflections do you have on the above?    I love the analogy of perennials and annuals!  And I think there are some friendships that are even less predictable but that still spring back into bloom when the opportunity arises.  It helped me to think of some as seasonal friends.  Because, seasons of life do change things.  When children are young, we can often be close to the moms of their good friends and communicate regularly.  As they grow and leave, those friendships don’t necessarily continue on a regular basis, but may still thrive when there is opportunity.  
    5. What similarity do you see between Proverbs 18:24 and 20:6?   I looked at 5 versions:  ASV, ESV, NIV, NASB and KJV    The differences were all in the first part of the verse.  Saying that if you make many friends, have many companions , have too many friends or unreliable friends you may or you will come to ruin or destruction.  The KJV deviated a lot though as it said a man who has many friends must show himself friendly  Didn’t say anything about negative consequences.  The last part of the verse in every version said there is A (singular) friend who sticks closer than a brother.  I did peek at the CEB  version too and it made the second part plural friends who are loyal.   I didn’t know what to do with that, so I ignored it!  And that was only 6 out of 20 versions I could have looked at.    
    Looking a different versions of 20:6 was more enjoyable.  Here’s my own composite translation of the verse based on KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV and ASV:  
    “Many or most men will proclaim to everyone his own goodness, kindness, loyalty, and unfailing, steadfast love.  (depending on the version)  BUT a faithful, trustworthy friend, person or man……who can find?”
    These two verses are similar in that they make a similar contrast:  18:24 – You can have a lot of friends but yet you come to ruin.  (maybe even because of your unreliable friends).  You can only depend on the ONE friend who sticks close through anything that happens.   20:6 – The nature of people is that they will proclaim their undying devotion.   But in reality, it is rare and hard to find ONE truly faithful, loyal trustworthy friend. 
    Both passages start with many and end with one or a rarity.  Jesus is always the ONE exception.  Never forsakes.  Always loves.  Sticks with us through anything.  He is always faithful.   And sometimes, we are blessed with one true earthly friend like this too, though our earthly friends will always disappoint at some time.  

  40. 2. Share one specific example of how you have been refreshed by a friend on this blog.
    As others have shared, I would hate to give one example because it would leave out so many others of equal importance.  There are many special woman on this blog that I feel incredibly blessed in the opportunity to be in relationship and bask in the wisdom of comments, to contemplate answers/comments given, to enrich my relationship with the Lord…and then there is our leader, Dee…an incredible gift from the Lord, a genuine woman who gives of herself to the glory of the Lord without pretense.
    This is a wonderful place to be…to study, to be in fellowship, to pray for others needs, and to be the recipient of prayers and caring.
    I recall when my (single, youngest) daughter announced her unexpected pregnancy…the shock and awe I experienced in that news (oh my…).  You ladies came along side me with love and encouragement.  I will never forget and will always treasure the support provided me.

  41. 4. What reflections do you have on the above?
    When I read the part regarding annual and perennial friends, it brought to mind something a friend from many years ago said.  She told me that friends were in one’s life for a reason, a season, or a life-time.  I thought she would be a life-timer, but ended up being a season.  In thinking of our relationship, I do think that was the Lord’s plan entirely. 
    Thinking back to Keller’s sermon on friendship from last week, I find it comforting to think that in this (i.e., friendship), the Lord is in control.  He will bring into our life people and circumstances involving those people; He has a plan for who those “bosom” friends are to be (I too love Anne of Green Gables). Hearing Dee speak on Midday Connection and finding my way to the bible study blog is one example. That being said, it is not to say that our efforts are unimportant.  There is much to absorb/learn and put into action regarding the various pitfalls of friendship (e.g., smothering, inattentiveness, judging).  Oh that I might learn and avoid them.
    I have a pile of books waiting to be read (so many good, so little time)…one of those is Dee’s, “The Friendships of Women.”  It has moved to the top of the stack…:)

    A warm welcome Lynette!

    1. Nanci – yet another golden post from you….filled with such godly wisdom.  I love your friends simple words about friendship:  “for a reason, a season, or for a lifetime”.  Wow.  Most importantly though….I love how you see the Lord’s hand and plans in all of this.  That He moves in our circumstances and we can rest secure in His hands!  🙂  

  42. 3. Have you been holding onto an offense because a friend let you down in a storm? Can you release it, to your glory? 
    I feel like this question should be in blinking lights for me–it’s an old sinful pattern for me to hold on to an offense, at least until there is an apology I deem worthy “enough”. OH it pains me to write that. We can never be sorry “enough” to cover our sin–and the Father knew that, so He sent Christ–and only Christ is “enough”.
    There are a few old offenses (including from extended family)—that I do believe I’ve forgiven—and yet, I have to continue to forgive—again and again, when something stirs the memory. I used to think that meant I hadn’t really forgiven—but now I see Matthew 18:20-21, as teaching me that sometimes the continuance to forgive is for the same, original offense. I will also admit that the old wisdom to pray for those who have hurt you—really works. The more I can get my heart to a place of sincerely praying for those who have hurt me—the less bitterness I feel. It was an eye opener at first, as I realized how hard it was. I saw how my heart actually did not want to pray good for them—awful. But the more I do, the more He softens me, and the chains tying the old offense to my heart, begin to break…and my heart starts to feel lighter, freer—even at the thought of the person. 

    1. I need this question to be in “blinking lights” too, Lizzy. It’s a sinful pattern for me, too, to hold onto an offense. You are so right in that praying for the person really does help, especially, I think, if they are a believer, because then I am reminded that I am talking to the Father about another one of His children, and that He loves them, even if they did offend me. He’s not mad at them; He doesn’t take sides or play favorites. In the same way, He gives me grace when I am the offender.

    2. Gosh, I don’t remember where I saw it or heard it, but forgiveness is something you might need to keep repeating, as you said, “sometimes continuance to forgive”
      …some days it might feel like my heart is clear and all is forgiven, but then another day ill feelings arise with the potential to sprout bitterness or resentment, it is then that I must forgive once again.  I know that I often forget that forgiving once sometimes just isn’t enough.
      Yes, praying for those who have hurt me often helps me to see them in a different light.

    3. Lizzy,
      Thank you for this:    I will also admit that the old wisdom to pray for those who have hurt you—really works. The more I can get my heart to a place of sincerely praying for those who have hurt me—the less bitterness I feel.

    4. Praying for those who have offended us is truly powerful!!!!!!

  43. 4. What reflections do you have on the above?
    It’s all so true! Most of my life I was the type to have one or two very, very close friends. Being an introvert, I was drawn to a close, deep friendship from as young as I can remember. And not wanting to sound like “psycho-babble”, I clearly grew up with a tendency towards co-dependent relationships (idolatry).  But over years of being let down by that “one”, or being the one to let the other down—and the intense pain it caused, I started to change my view on friendships. I used to seek out only those who seemed most like me—spiritually, and in personality. Now I see the beauty in having an “outer circle” that includes many different types, and “levels” of friendship, and I regret the opportunities I excluded along the way thinking they had nothing to offer. I will say here too, it feels different since being married. In some ways, I feel like I’m cheating because my husband really is the best friend I’ve ever had, and we started dating in high school, so he knows all my mess! And we joke that friends can leave, but he’s stuck with me. Still, there is the special bond of a “sister”, but I don’t feel like I put them in the same “spot” I did as before. 

    I also relate so much to the “seasonal” friendships. After a lot of pain over friendships not continuing, I feel like it was helpful to start to see some as “seasonal”. It still hurts when things dissolve, but over time, I’ve been able to see how God moved some friends out, and brought others in—and I can look back and see how they were the friend for a certain time or struggle—and I wouldn’t want to have not had the friendship then, but as time passes, we all (hopefully) grow and change—and sometimes the changes within each of us change the “fit”, but I’d still rather have grown and changed—am I making any sense?! For my husband and I, we didn’t begin our family for 10 years after being married. Honestly every couple in our Church small group, our circle of friends, who were married the same time as us, began having kids much earlier. It was no ones’ fault, but we didn’t fit the circle anymore. And truthfully, it was painful. The Sunday School topics suddenly became ALL about child-rearing and we were struggling through infertility. So we moved on, but still treasure those early couple friendships—and while we’re states away now, and don’t “keep up”, I am so thankful for the season they were in our lives. Sorry –I do have a LOT on this topic so I better stop here!

    1. Reading through this, Lizzy, made me also realize that the close friends I had when I was in the early years of parenting were there just for a season.  I hadn’t thought of it before, but we moved away when our oldest three kids were 4,2 and 1 and after a few years no longer ‘kept up’ with any of the friends who had been our peer group earlier.   They really were my closest friends at the time and I am thankful they were in my life at that time.  I was really reminded of this recently, when I met and got better acquainted with someone who went to the church we went to in that town and was updating me on the folks we used to be close to.  I realize we have all moved on and I don’t expect to pick those friendships back up.  It’s amazing how much time passes sometimes, before I realize that we have been in a ‘different’ season for a looooong time now.  Yet, I can still be grateful for the friends who helped us through those years long ago.  And now, because of changing churches, I feel like, in many ways, we’re in a new season again.  
      Yes, you did make sense!   I can see that after all these years, I have grown and changed too.  And I doubt that I would still be closest to that same group of women, if we ended up together again.  Yet, for THAT season, God gave them to me and I am glad.  In ways, different than what you described, I understand ‘not fitting the circle’ anymore.  That is sorta what has happened in some of our relationships as the Lord has led us to another church.  I expect that only the very closest friends, who love us enough to be happy that we have found a place where we really feel we fit, will continue to work at keeping our relationships strong.  Kinda thinking aloud here, but you made me think through these changes in ways I hadn’t done before.  

  44. 6. Read Proverbs 19:1-7 and find what it says about wealth and friends. Think of this not only in terms of material wealth, but popularity and power. Search your own heart. Are you friends with the poor, the powerless, and the unpopular?
    These verses point out that many may be disqualified from others desiring their friendship because they are poor and have nothing to give. This verse is particularly sad:
    “A poor man is shunned by all his relatives – how much more do his friends avoid him?
    Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.”
    I think Dee is wise here to say that it isn’t always about wealth, but also popularity or power. Sadly, I see this in the church. There always seems to be an “in” crowd. I even see this in certain Christian magazines; there is one that I receive in the mail, and I won’t name it, but it’s centered around marriage and family, and the cover of the magazine and all throughout show photos of men, women, and children who are always well-dressed, nice looking, upper middle class looking families. Somehow it makes me feel like I want to be like them, too. Perhaps because I live in a typical suburban American neighborhood, the majority of people I see at church are not the poor or the marginalized. So where must I go to find those who are poor or on the social fringes? There are many local ministries that serve the poor. But this makes me think: So I may volunteer to serve the poor, but that isn’t the same as being friends with those who are not so financially well-off, unpopular, or powerless.
    And here’s another thought: what about purposely seeking out someone who lacks wealth, or popularity, or power to befriend them? Isn’t that viewing them as a “project”? I would be offended if I felt someone felt sorry for me. But here’s a personal example. Many, many years ago, when I was in my early 30’s, I was in a Bible study. There were lots of other ladies close to my age or a little bit younger with kids who appeared to be popular, fun, etc… Our leader paired us into groups of two or three so that at the end of our class time, we would break off into our little groups for prayer. My heart sank when I wasn’t paired with any of the desirable, in my eyes, ladies. I was paired up with one woman, who was a little older than me, had no children, was in a difficult marriage, didn’t live in a very good neighborhood, and who later shared with me that she had a mental illness, though it was controlled with medication. So I didn’t “choose” her, but we were paired together. She turned out to be a good friend, for a season of time. We began to talk on the phone on occasion, go out to lunch a few times, attend a few church functions together. I would never have picked her to be my friend; yet she turned out to be one of the most sincere, honest, caring, humble people I’d ever met. We remained friends for a few years, then gradually that season of friendship with her ended…I changed churches and didn’t see her as much.
    I’m struggling to put this into words, but my thoughts are that I shouldn’t go seeking a friend because they are poor, powerless, or unpopular, just as I shouldn’t seek out a friend because they are wealthy, popular, or powerful (can be useful to me). Can I just get past all the “coverings” of the outside and seek out a kindred spirit? And sometimes friendships are made in unlikely ways, like my example above. God must have orchestrated that.

    1. Susan – you have packed so much into this entry that resonates with me.  You  have so rightly identified that when we go to church where we live, well, most of the other members of that local body are likely of the same/similar economic and social “standing” (HATE that word!!).  I don’t think anyone sets out to be exclusive or to neglect the poor and the marginalized…..it just oh so naturally happens.  One thought on the complexion of the local body though – it’s likely that, even among all that looks so similar outwardly, there are those who are truly “different”…… a good example is the woman you were paired with in your Bible study.  Though you could identify some ways in which she seemed different, there are others who perhaps just hide things better.  I might be one of those people!  In my church, I’m all but certain that I am one of the poorest members.  Not that I’m hiding it all that well…..the car I drive, for instance is remarkably like the one that Daisy and Onslo drive, if you have ever watched the British comedy “Keeping Up Appearances”!!  But if you just met me inside the walls of the building and noted the way I’m dressed, the way I’m interacting with people…..I don’t think there would be a clue to the life I’ve been living for several years. If you knew my address, it is in one of the wealthier areas.  But we don’t own the farm we live on….and it is BY FAR the least fancy place on the entire road – lovely though the land itself may be!   There’s somewhat of a perfect storm of factors that play into my economic situation, including some that would SEEM to indict my husband – therefore I share none of this within my local body.  The first time I visited my life group, the conversational topic beforehand turned to local (Baltimore) restaurants – the conversation was SO lively and I sat there feeling like “ok, this group is NOT for me”!!!  I had this HUGE sense of disconnect, shame and “less than”…..every single person there – except for me! – was offering several wonderful dining options!!  I’ve since realized that this is EXACTLY where God has placed me and it is wonderful.  🙂  The Lord also led me to a woman in our church who looks lovely and well put together every week….is vivacious and serves the children’s ministry wholeheartedly…..yet in conversation with her I learned (because I asked…..not something I would always do, but God just “nudged” me!) that she was struggling terribly financially since her husband had left her years before……..amazingly, God just “happens” to have my dog boarding business overflowing at the same time in the summer that this dear woman leaves to minister to a very poor hispanic church in NYC….and my overflowing cup is able to spill over and help her do that!  She somehow makes me feel as though I am part of her “in the trenches” service in NYC!  It’s just a lovely,lovely thing that only God can do.  And no one but the two of us knows about our secret “connection” – well, until this moment anyway!  Truly, when we pray for God to open our eyes to those in our local churches….He DOES so!  I have MANY stories like this from our little body…..but I’ve taken up WAY more than my share of space on the blog in general this week!!  🙂  

      1. Again, Jackie, you’ve put words to what I struggle with – to just get past what you see outwardly and find out who a person really is. I think we are all good at “hiding” behind a smile, the “I’m doing okay, thanks…and you?” Love this story of you and your friend and your “secret connection”!

      2. Susan and Jackie I loved your posts here and what you are reflecting on. I have to say I think one beautiful thing about this blog is we do not know a lot about these kinds of things and are friends with who we really are and not our appearances, how we stand, power etc.  I have encountered in my work SO MANY people who have the appearances but what has gone on behind those appearances to get there to carry that image is many times a GREAT BURDEN. I see folks in such financial trouble keeping up those appearances. I LOVED the connection you shared Jackie, But back to my original thought here. You my dear Jackie are a very rich friend and the richness you share far outweighs a conversation about a restaurant:) I think you are just where you need to be! 

  45. 3.  Have you been holding on to an offense because a friend let you down in a storm?  Can you release it, to your glory?    
    At first I truly could not think of a good example and challenge to my heart for this one.  But as I prayed and pondered something I’ve tried to just brush off and more or less ignore did come to mind.  I’m actually shaken to the core even as I am writing this to realize that perhaps this has been an “unseen” wall in our friendship over the past couple of years.  This particular friend is incredibly dear to me and has been so “on my team” throughout many, many years.  We have prayed together countless times and she has been like family to my kids as they were growing up.  She is most certainly one of the friends that I could call, without hesitation, at any time of the night or day.  We laugh together uproariously…..and we have often laughed at how VERY different from one another we are…..and how our friendship is totally a God brought and God sustained entity.  Throughout the years there has always been an ebb and flow to how much we were physically together, depending on what life was demanding of each of us……but I’m just in this moment realizing a REASON why we have seen even less of each other over the past 2 years.  My friends temperament and personality is sunny-side-up and glass half full….that’s just how she does life.  In the summer of 2013, after Abel’s death and Jes’ revelation to us of her very serious cancer diagnosis, I was – as I have written here too much – flattened.  No words would adequately describe the months of sheer agony and despair.  God brought me to a point at the end of that summer where the words of Job 42:1-6 became MY words to Him.  He truly set my feet back upon a Rock – Himself! – and life became abundant again.  🙂  At the same time, grief remains to this day.  It is not a maudlin grief (I hope anyway) that I revel in – it is just a part of who I am.  It is a precious part of how Jesus molded me at that point of time through much sorrow…..and some continuing sorrow.  But I do love Jesus, I love life and I’ve been moving on as He leads.  I’ve noted all along though…..when I’m with my friend I need to take care in how I speak of all of this.  She has admonished me that I’ve got to “get over it” and “move on”…..even saying clearly that this is God’s will for my life – all true.  I could not disagree with any of that.  But when a grief is so very intertwined with the Spirit’s molding of my heart and life…..well, I just don’t know how to NOT occasionally reference that!  It’s not like I weep constantly as I speak of that time in my life or refer to it every day, or even every week or month.  So far as I know – and oh, I hope I am wrong – someone I loved very much (Abel) died without Christ.  How can that have no impact on my life for the rest of my days?  This aspect of Abel’s death has even been a topic of conversation between my Jes and myself (at her instigation).  It was very gentle, sobering, almost holy.  But I cannot mention this with my friend.  Hmm.  With my friend Jestina, for instance, the topic is not forbidden.  Indeed, Abel weaves throughout some our conversations now and again, and it is just so EASY, so NATURAL, so very, very healing and edifying for me.  
    So it seems that I do have forgiving to do – the question is, how can I NOT speak of all of this now with my friend?  Please pray for me – for I don’t want to crash through a door that the Spirit has not opened.  But I’m rather overwhelmed in my spirit with this revelation at this moment.  Ok.  You all are just getting the raw and raggedy verson.  

      1. Dee….I just took a little “prayer run” on my country road…..amazing how much PEACE descended!  I will speak to my friend, but it will be gentle, Lord willing.  I don’t believe that she EVER wanted harm for me, but rather this is how she saw healing – and her temperament might well be one that would move more quickly through grief….??  Your prayers were immediately a blessing to me!  

    1. Jackie, I read this comment about your friend who admonished you to “get over” your grief over Abel and Jes’ cancer with great sadness. I don’t really have any advice for you, but to say that I will pray. I know the pain of feeling that I cannot share about certain issues with a friend and how it puts walls between us. I am so sure, though, that God is gentle with us. I pray that I will be gentle with my friends when they are going through grief. I will pray that He will restore your friendship with this person who has been there for you at many other times. I am glad you have other friends with whom you can talk about your grief.

      1. Diane – I just wanted to clarify what I shared…..my friend truly is a caring friend.  And she is very much concerned about Jes’ cancer battle and I know prays daily for her, sometimes even with tears.  It was the death of Abel that she wanted me to get past…..and Jes too, for that matter.  Then again…..MANY people – even many other believers seemed to look at his death as something Jes needed to move quickly past because “she is young”.  ??  I guess because they wanted to see her “happy” with someone again??  It is a way of thinking that I don’t understand at all and Jes was really appalled to come up against that kind of “advice”.  But clearly, a lot of folks feel that way…… at any rate, I did want you to know that my friend is motivated by love for me and my family – and her caring has been expressed in tangible ways many, many times over many, many years!  🙂  I didn’t want to give a false picture of a woman who loves the Lord and just sees things differently than I do!  

      2. It was clear from all your comments about your friend that she is a committed caring person. I agree with Chris that perhaps she has not experienced the depths of pain that grief can cause yet. I did not mean to speak lightly. It is true that each person works through grief differently and at a different pace. There may be an aspect of her “personality” in her words. Nonetheless, the words hurt and perhaps she does not realize that. In any case, I hope you have a gentle, fruitful conversation with your friend and that she is sympathetic and “weeps with you” once more, as she truly understands your heart.

        1. Diane – just couldn’t leave this without saying that you are the LAST person I would see as “speaking lightly” of something.  I just realized that by lumping the two things – the death and the cancer diagnosis – together  I was implying the same attitude about both and that is so much not the case!  “I am so sure, though, that God is gentle with us.”  These words of yours were like gems to my soul when I read them.  Invaluable for me to ponder in the midst of all of this process.  Thank you.  🙂  

    2. Dear Jackie, I am guessing your friend has not yet had a Job 42:1-6 type of experience in her life.
      It is hard I think, for someone who hasn’t deeply suffered to be okay with seeing someone they care about in pain, pain that nothing this side of heaven is ever going to eradicate.
      The hope we have, that you so  clearly have, makes it possible to feel to the depths of our souls how awful a price the fallenness of sin has been. She admonishes you to “get over it” but getting thorough it will take the rest of your days. 
      We are to weep with those who weep. Denying the horror of death somehow diminishes our ability to celebrate Christ’s victory over it.

      Perhaps you could process this out loud with her what you’ve shared with us? You are pondering your hurt as a need to forgive which may be so, but your honestly about her being a miserable comforter may be an occasion of growth for her?

      1. Such wisdom, Chris.

      2. Chris – your tender words here hit the mark in every way.  I do think deep suffering changes who we are and who we are becoming.  And I agree, it is hard to watch someone we care for deeply for suffer horribly.  When the Lord allows life’s waves to crash over us…..and yet His presence remains….and that becomes a part of who we are, our story.  And you are SOooooo right to link celebrating Christ’s victory with the clear eyed reality of how truly shattering and grievous death is……you have encouraged my heart greatly with your words.  🙂  And yes, I will share this in a frank, but tender way.  Who knows where the Lord could take such a conversation?  

      3. Chris, such powerful, impactful words…”Denying the horror of death somehow diminishes our ability to celebrate Christ’s victory over it.” Yet it can be a fearful thing to stare it in the face…only with Him at our side can we do this.

    3. Jackie, my heart hurt as I read your post.  Truthfully, how can one not change after suffering loss such as this; it would be silly to think that a person can “just get over it” and have no residual mourning.  It reminded me of a conversation I had a little while back with a friend regarding the loss of her son (four years ago) and insensitivity she had experienced from some people. I’m sorry for your pain, Jackie…I pray for an opportunity for you and your friend to talk openly.  Bless you, sister…

      1. Nanci – your words are so often a healing balm too….no matter what the heartache, you seem to be able to truly put yourself in another’s shoes, so to speak.  It moves me deeply that it is in your heart to do so.  From my heart to yours….thank you sister.  🙂

    4. Jackie, perhaps your friend doesn’t understand that maybe all you need is for her to “sit shiva,” as Dee has described to us before. Sometimes we talkers think we have to say something for every occasion regardless of its virtue! I can be this way…..uncomfortable in a room of silent people. When Dee told us that sometimes it’s ok to just be there with the grieving person, that we didn’t have to talk, I was freed! I told the person I am here for you (usually in person) and then let them grieve. They might cry, they might be silent, or they might get angry. My job was to just be there – no talking, but instead holding, hugging, praying quietly just so they knew they weren’t alone. I hope you get to talk to your friend because it sounds like a “keeper” friendship that just needs a little massaging. Love you sister!

      1. Aw Laura – I’m so glad I made this quick last check for the day (was actually looking up a question!).  Your words here are rich on so many levels – even in that Abel was Jewish and the reference to sitting shiva is SO very apt!!  And you give me a great reminder as well of the perspective of the “talker”!  You would totally “get” my friend!  She can  light up a room with her presence….and yes, silences are so hard for her.  🙂  You are so right again in that she IS a keeper!  I really do need the differences that Christ brings to me in her.  She is precious and so are your words.  I love you too Laura.  

      2. Laura-d, such a good, wise reminder: “My job was to just be there – no talking, but instead holding, hugging, praying quietly just so they knew they weren’t alone.”

      3. Laura,
        Love what you have said here.    My job was to just be there – no talking, but instead holding, hugging, praying quietly just so they knew they weren’t alone.

    5. Jackie,   that was a big and I’m sure very difficult revelation that you shared with us.  I know that I would have a very hard time with a ‘sunny side up….glass half full’ person who didn’t seem to have room for my grief.  I have read your subsequent comments and I understand that your friend is very caring even though her personality might seem much more light hearted than feels right for you.  I do think I would have the same struggle.  That can indeed feel like an offense.    I have someone in my life who sounds very much like your friend, in personality.  The strongest word I’ve ever heard her use, when she is trying to affirm your pain is ‘oh that’s icky’.   I have felt offended at this a few times too.  (as that was her verbal response when my daughter was terribly ill-though she would go out of her way to give practical help).  BUT the thing is with her,  she HAS gone through the most indescribable loss, in that 3 years ago her 45 year old husband died, suddenly and unexpectedly overnight, from a medical condition.   She was immediately a single mom of three teenage boys.  Her husband was an extremely charismatic, loving person and 1,000 people crammed into the auditorium of our church for his funeral.  I have to say, that as far as I could see, her personality never did change.  She continued to be sunny side up and push forward, pretty much from day one.  Trusting the Lord, yes….but those of us who know her worried that it appeared she didn’t grieve.  It’s completely hard for me to fathom  but I just don’t know what else to think, but that she really is what she appears to be.  I don’t get it.  I believe we all need to walk through the hard realities of grief and there be some visible evidence of that, but maybe for some, it looks very different.  Though having her tell you to get over it would indeed be a hard offense to walk through.  I will pray for you too. 

      1. Oh Wanda – yes, you have described my friend in so many ways!  Her life HAS been amazingly smooth to date, which at times she does clearly see.  But I truly COULD see her way of handling grief to be what would seem to me to be brief and much like your friend as you described after the sudden death of her husband.  My friend’s words to get over it were given in the sense of an admonishment that my walk with Christ would suffer from a long and deep grief – not at ALL what my experience seemed to be.  I truly found Him to be molding and shaping me in the very midst of grief – a lovely, holy thing indeed.  Something so far out of my natural capacity to imagine that I could only stand in awe of Who He is.  But as you have pointed out with your own friend, we need to leave space for others who may grieve differently……and Diane’s golden wisdom of how gentle the Lord is with us….and thus, how we should be with one another….is ringing in my ears.  Chris said that “getting through it will take the rest of your days”.  When Chris speaks to this I know we all bend our ears towards her heart……and she is someone who shows us continually that getting through sorrow with Christ as Lord of our lives is a very different way of getting through sorrow than any other way.  I am simply overwhelmed to be ending my day with these heartfelt words from all of my sisters here on the blog……oh my, isn’t this PRECISELY what we’re delving into this week?  Amazing.  

    6. Jackie–I’m going to chime in now too 😉 I just want to say I’m both convicted by and inspired by all of this you’re processing through. When you said “My friends temperament and personality is sunny-side-up and glass half full…”, oh I hate to admit this, but I struggle with those types of friendships! I do have a few good friends like that and I guess I’ve learned not to go to them with the hard, heavy stuff of life–or at least to expect that sunny response. But I so admire your acceptance of her as she is, for seeing past that, and gleaning the gold (SO like you to do that!) There is no judgment in your tone. Wow. More for me to learn from! Praying for you now, for wisdom, and healing. 

      1. Oh Lizzy…..right when I’m signing off I see your entry here…..teary eyed to read it.  Your prayers and encouragement spur me on.  Anything you write to me always says “WELCOME……you can be ‘you’ here” and that means more than I can find words to say. 🙂  Though my friend and I  are dramatically different, the Lord clearly brought our friendship into being MANY years ago….and through times of prayer and studying the Scriptures together, He has powerfully molded each of us and I guess I’ve come to see how much I often have NEEDED that balance that God brought to me through her…..that whole iron sharpening iron concept I guess.  Knowing you have prayed for me and for this friendship tonight brings me great joy, dear Lizzy.  Bless you for taking the time to tell me so!  I love you, sister.  🙂  

    7. Jackie,
      Grateful for your “raw and raggedy version”, for that is how life is.
      One thing I learned in the weeks, months and years following our little Abby’s death, was that you cannot “get over it”, you can only “go through it” and in that wrenching place of grief there are treasures that can only be seen in the darkness.     I think that sometimes people are afraid of the dark and so they miss the treasures that are there.    There were some who said I needed to “get over it” and “move on”…… but there were some who came and sat silently.   There was even an elderly, wise, patient friend who wrote to me for over a year (snail mail cards several times a month).       
      (Sorry, a little disjointed, “raw and raggedy”  in my thoughts here tonight  …. very rough week with my dad as his alzheimers takes a terrible toll.)

      1. Nila–I feel like I lean in closer, to listen well when I see your posts. Your loss of Abby has given you a rare depth and wisdom, like I see in Chris, that only comes from that desperate dependence on Him through such tragedy. I love this “you cannot “get over it”, you can only “go through it” “. Dee has said something similar and it is so wise. You have such a tender, heart of compassion. Thankful for you~

      2. Nila – seeing this entry this morning….my heart melts.  And my heart overflows with love for you, my sister.  The treasures you have found in the darkness touch us all.  Like Chris, your words have weight – when you speak of going through rather than getting over…..you know, you know.  🙂  How I ache to think of your dear dad slipping away from you…..the long goodbye as it is so often called.  Perhaps this is why the Lord laid you on my heart yesterday afternoon and evening in a renewed and deep way…..I called out to Him for you many, many times.  “Underneath are the everlasting arms.”  His arms.  His Word to you in the darkness.  

      3. Thank you for this post, Nila.  Like Jackie and Lizzy, I always read every word of your thoughtful comments.   I love the example of your elderly, wise, patient friend and how those snail mail cards made an impact.   Sharing the treasure you found through the darkness has often touched my heart, here.  

      4. Nila, neither disjointed or raggity…raw, yes, but I have great respect for that, thank you for sharing from your heart. 
        I’m sorry for your rough week with your Dad…the emotional toll is enormous.  I was talking with my Mom yesterday about a friend of hers suffering alzheimers…my Mom and Dad have been friends with she and her husband for decades, they are Godparents for my oldest brother, anyway, my Mom was talking about the toll her care has taken on her children and spouse, how she has no recognition of best friends any longer…  I remember my Aunt who suffered alzheimers not knowing her granddaugher…such a sad illness.  Oh Nila, I am so sorry for what you and your family are enduring…

  46. Test
    3. Have you been holding onto an offense because a friend let you down in a storm? Can you release it, to your glory? So. I have been pondering this since Sunday. I have had many “offenses” or that may be a rather strong word… I just seem to not hang onto friends, sometimes they tell me to go away, sometimes they do not have time for me, sometimes it’s a gradual fade. I see and realize my role in friendship idolatry there but there are other variables one of which is that I am indeed, often, a friend for a “reason” (referring to Nanci’s three categories of friends here). I often meet someone, we talk of deeper things, and then I am able to share something with them that seems to resonate with struggles they are experiencing. For the longest time I would feel that I needed to be “responsible” and continue these connections so I would try to maintain contact. But I have learned over the years that many of these were just for one meeting, a specific reason, even if just to pray with them. I have often been told by people that they feel they can confide in me and not feel judged and I think God uses this more in divine appointments rather than divine friendships, if that makes sense.

    ok, so usually when someone fades, or asks me to leave (sometimes subtly or not not-so-subtly) I assume they don’t want me around, they don’t like me.Or if I have attempted conflict resolution and they haven’t been completely honest, I assume the same: they don’t like me. So I keep my distance. Is this holding onto an offense?! Knowing in my brain that so-n-so doesn’t like me so I won’t contact her or reach out to her, is this wisdom? Or justification for grudges? I am kind of leaning toward the later… Because if I had truly forgiven (and continue to forgive) then there wouldn’t be a debate in my heart? I say this because there are only two individuals in my life that I have these internal debates about… All the rest that have faded I have come to accept that it was just for a reason or a season and trust it to the Lord, I have shed the identity part from those situations seeing God’s hand and trusting it. Except for 2. Then comes the fear – to “release” the offense takes what kind of action? Do I need to contact them and attempt friendship, do I just pray for them as I have been and wait on the Lord? Do I release the friendship?

    4. What reflections do you have on the above? Yes, friends come and go. Sometimes because of hurt, sometimes just cuz. Something I have learned through my many good-byes is that friends usually stay true. If you show up in town 2 years later with nary a phone call or letter in the time past, they receive you warmly, genuinely. Once that connection is made, it’s there even if it hasn’t been maintained very well. I was so very, very blessed when I drove 7 days cross country to our first Army post (by myself with two toddlers and a cat!) we had friends at each stop who welcomed us and helped us! Amazing. In fact, in remembering that, God is encouraging me to see that, while all this talk of friendship is somewhat painful because I have had hurt there, I have also had many, many good friends along the way! I know my story is different but it is my story given to me by Him and there is beauty in it.

    Also remembering that when we forgive an offense – we bear the price (that was in our sermon a couple weeks back and it has stuck with me).

    1. Jill, from reading your post, especially your answer to #3, it seems like you’ve been doing some soul-searching and just what I would call the hard work of growth and maturity. Don’t be too hard on yourself; friendships can often be difficult to navigate as friends can often let us down or even if they don’t, certain “seasonal” friendships, when they fade away…well, it’s hard when we realize that a friendship that we thought would be forever turns out to be only for a limited season. You asked if to “release” the offense, does that take some kind of action on your part? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I believe that often, to release a true or perhaps a perceived offense (no true offense was intended by the other person), I need to confess my feelings of hurt, or rejection, etc…to the Lord, and make a decision not to continue to go over and over it in my mind (brooding over it) as that only continues to keep it alive. The thoughts often do come again, but each time I need to make a conscious decision to stop, redirect my thinking to what I know is true, noble, right, praiseworthy…perhaps I need to pray for that person, and if they are a believer, with the mindset that I’m talking to the Lord about one of His other children.

      1. Susan, thank you. Your words were helpful to me!

        1. Jill – I left the blog last evening thinking about your entry…..I was uncertain of a response.  Susan has blessed you with such a thoughtful, wise word.  I wouldn’t have thought to say it as she did – but I gladly add my amen to her words to you today!  🙂  

    2. Jill,   I really think your words are wise at the end of your first paragraph.  Realizing that some meetings are divine appointments and not carrying the burden of responsibility to work at friendships whenever those meetings happen. That is a good insight.  Thank you.   I can understand how people see you as someone in whom they can confide  and not feel judged.  Your heart is tender to others and you have been molded by the mobile life you have lived.  In some ways, I wonder if you have made your contacts with others count so much more than many of us do, because you have realized that the time to get to know someone may be shortened by needing to move.  I appreciate you so much, Jill!

  47. 10. Rebecca Pippert said “We must learn how to be the host in conversation.” I think this is the art that is described in Proverbs 20:4.  What do you think this means?
    That Christ is present in the conversation, that we either glorify Him or seeking glory for our selves?

    As I read thorough the comments and wrestle with my own issues, a vein of approval of man runs deep into my heart, I keep thinking about identity. Some of us pursue friendship when we feel it begin to recede, some of us decide ‘I won’t need anyone’ and retreat at the first sign of  a negative emotion from someone we are in relationship with. Both reactions are self centered. I need something from that person, I am really using them to my own ends.

    As a retreater who knows I need to be closer to Christ I can even use this in my arsenal of self. I will draw close to Christ so you can’t hurt me, but my motivation is still self!
    I see this now, but I know the enemy will keep repackaging the goods, he will keep trying to get me to look to something other than the Gospel to make me feel acceptable.

    If I truly am abiding in Christ, drawing my worth from Him alone, I can risk loving people even when I see that the way they are moving towards me or away from me is motivated my selfish interests. I see this in me, it shouldn’t shock me to see it in them.
    The shock is that our God sees all of it and has shed His own blood for our souls!

    1. Chris, as usual, a “save-worthy” post. Convicting too. I’m realizing that the very things I long for in a friendship, are some of my weakest areas. “If I truly am abiding in Christ, drawing my worth from Him alone, I can risk loving people”. Don’t like that word “risk”–SO hard, especially with “loving”–but oh so wise, and if I am truly abiding, I am safe in His arms, protected with His armor, so I CAN risk…

  48. Chris, such depth and truth. As I struggle with my own issues in friendship, this both convicts and comforts my soul:

     If I truly am abiding in Christ, drawing my worth from Him alone, I can risk loving people even when I see that the way they are moving towards me or away from me is motivated by selfish interests. I see this in me, it shouldn’t shock me to see it in them. The shock is that our God see all of it and has shed His own blood for our souls!

  49. Search your own heart. Are you friends with the poor, the powerless, and the unpopular?    My immediate response is yes.  Both my husband and I grew up with very little financially (I realized when I was applying for financial aid for college, that my dad’s income was below the poverty line.  I didn’t have a clue.)  My parents lived on a shoestring, but nurtured and met our needs so well, we had no idea we were poor. They were some of the most well respected and well known/loved people in the community because of their integrity and service to others. (and to be honest, there were many who lived with far, FAR less than we did. They were the ones we called poor.)  Dad was mayor of our very small town and public servant extraordinaire. He tirelessly did anything that needed to be done  and he always extended his hand to help those in need.  There were a lot of socially outcast, unkempt, uncouth, and fairly undesirable people that he treated with respect.  Extended credit in his grocery story or for whom he just became someone they could come to to get help with their problems.  I could write a book, (if I could only remember) filled with anecdotes of the ways he impacted people.  Poignant moments at his funeral when the front row of the church was filled with the least of these who considered dad their good friend. I say this because I think we tend to: either live what we saw modeled for us. OR we live in a way that is opposite of how we lived because we want to change that part of our past.  My husband had a traumatic childhood beginning life in the housing projects of the inner city in Fresno,CA and he has carried with him a heart for the poor also.  He is now very well known in his career and meets with some very important people in the MN State Health and Human Services field.  But he hasn’t forgotten from whence he came.  His students love his  honesty and that he is real with them. He often sees that the students he teaches downtown, in the very diverse (some first generation college students) public school are much more grateful and less self seeking than those he teaches at the private Christian college in the suburbs.  All this to say, that yes, I am very drawn to the poor, powerless and unpopular, by circumstances, background and example of the people I love most.  But friendships?  That is often harder to gauge and nurture.  It’s that same tension I feel that I’ve written of earlier.  Am I seeking to help, mentor, or be a real friend?   I know that I am more comfortable with the poor and powerless than I am with those who are popular and wealthy, but neither status excludes or necessitates friendship.  Friendship has to be ‘discovered’ as Keller says.  It may be lying below the surface in either scenario; rich or poor.  All that said, I do think my closest friends are somewhat similar to myself in issues of socio-economics.  It just seems to work out that way.  I’m not necessarily wanting it to be like that.   

    1. oh wanda–you got me so teary with this post! I’m always drawn to the stories of you and your husband–but this about your own parents–wow. Love how, because of the way they loved you,  you never knew the financial strain they were under. And this “the front row of the church was filled with the least of these who considered dad their good friend”–that is an inspiration. The legacy they passed on, and you & your husband continued in serving the less fortunate–and then, passed on to your son and daughter in law, helping with the kids shelter. I KNOW there is much pain in your family right now, but it is also incredible to see the thread of His hand in ministry passed from one generation to the next. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’” (matthew 25:40)

      1. Thank you, Lizzy.  I throw these stories out there hesitatingly, sometimes….but they are what comes to the front of my mind.   I always appreciate your sweet affirmations and encouragement.

        1. Wanda, don’t ever “hestitate” to throw these stories out…you are and should be so proud of your dad and the way he lived his life (not proud in the human sense…I know you know what I mean!) but to think of the man that God molded and shaped him to be and the legacy that he left, and your husband doing the same.

    2. Wanda, I appreciate you sharing your and your husband’s background stories and how it has led you to have such compassion for “the least of these”.  Even though I had heard bits of your stories before I feel this helps me feel like I know you a bit better. God is so good.
      I also noted that your husband’s poorer students are “much more grateful and less self seeking”. I also found that when we ministered in Kenya. People could have very little but be thankful and full of compassion. I need to let them teach me this gratefulness. 

      1. Thank you so much, Susan and Diane.  Your kind words mean a lot to me.  Disclosure can be risky, wondering if people will misunderstand the intent.  You both have encouraged and blessed me this morning.  Also, your note about the people you met in Kenya, Diane.  I often hear that kind of statement from those who minister among the poor.  Truly convicting and something to learn from.