Tag: friendship

 by Dr. Deb Waterbury

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said something and then heard my 25-year-old son say, “Filter, Mom!” In truth, remembering to filter what goes on in my head before it comes out of my mouth has always been a struggle for me. I tend to speak much more than I should in some situations and then not say enough in others. Often I’ve missed the blessing of hearing what others are saying in both instances.

However, besides the obvious fact that I miss things, what is the ultimate responsibility I have in my words? Are there consequences far greater than what I may or may not miss? (more…)

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:
In all things the greatest of these is love.
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

By Raena Isaacson

Dear Hurting Moms:

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” ~Ecclesiastes 4:10

We are not intended to walk this journey alone. When we’re broken, Christ uses friends to help glue our pieces back together.

I’m inclined to hide when I’m suffering. What about you? (more…)

 By Dr. Deb Waterbury

I was having lunch with a beautiful young lady the other day, and we were commiserating on our individual inabilities to remember birthdays and holidays.  She was telling me of a funny time when her mother had broken a cherished bowl.  She found a replacement at the street fair one day in late October and determined herself then that she would buy the bowl and give it to her mother for Christmas.  She forgot, decided to give it to her for Mother’s Day, forgot, and subsequently gave it to her mother for Christmas the next year.  The problem was that she had placed a note in the gift wrapped box that was dated the year before her mother actually got it!  Caught red-handed!

I do that sort of thing all of the time, as I’m sure many of you do too.  I buy things or cards and put them away with full intentions of giving them to a special someone for their birthday or a holiday, only to not just forget where I put the gift or card, but to often forget the special day altogether!  I forget dates, occasions, calls–you name it, and I’ve forgotten it.  My young friend and I laughed together as we named ourselves “Time Capsule Friends”–that is, friends who give gifts late or make calls late so that we serve as a sort of “time capsule event” for the one getting them.  We excused our lack of memory as a sort of service instead.Time capsule

Of course our conversation was all in good fun, but I came face to face with the reality of my behavior while having coffee with another dear friend shortly afterward.

Understand that I am a busy woman.  We all are!  Kids, work, the house, our spouses, our church:  Women are more often than not overworked and over-extended in most areas of their lives. Consequently, my friends and co-workers in ministry are generally very gracious with me when I don’t return calls or occasionally re-schedule or even cancel coffee dates or lunch.  Sweetly they will say, “It’s okay, Deb.  I know you’re busy.”  And I am, just as you are and they are and we all are.  However, is that always a good excuse?  Do we allow our undeniably busy lives to interfere with ministering to one another as friends and loved ones?  Is a busy life an excuse to selfishly ignore the needs of others?

As I alluded to, I had coffee shortly after my lunch with another dear friend.  We had talked for a while, and I noticed that she was stammering a little, obviously trying to figure out how to tell me what was really on her mind.  Suddenly and without warning, she began to weep right there in the coffee shop.

“I’m sorry, Deb, but I need to see you sometimes.  I need time with you, not often, but occasionally.”

I stopped short.  You see, this is not the first time I’ve heard this, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this recently.  I get so caught up in my work for the Lord that I had begun to forget the work of the Lord.  I write and minister and speak and counsel, and often I think this is the bulk of what I should be doing.  Unfortunately, I sometimes also ignore that all of those things are absolutely nothing without relationship, without love and friendship and really ministering into one another’s lives.

Jesus, the one person in all of  eternity who truly had an excuse to maybe cancel a few coffees and lunches, never did so.  Right after teaching the Sermon on the Mount, He didn’t hesitate to heal the leper or go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant or to heal Peter’s mom or hundreds of others.  He was busy.  He was about the Lord’s work, but our Savior knew that this work was accomplished in relationship and giving time to individuals.

What excuse have you given for not meeting with a friend or a woman who needs you?  Is it your children or your grandchildren or your job or even your ministry?  Sisters, please don’t do what I’ve done and think that it’s somehow a service or even adorably quaint to be a “Time Capsule Friend.”  It isn’t. God has called us to pour into one another’s lives and live in the love exemplified for us by our Savior.

Needless to say, I’ve made a few long overdue calls lately and paid a few long overdue visits.  My work can wait. After all, it’s really meaningless if in it I am not showing the love of Jesus to the people around me.

Do you need to pick up the phone?

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.

 
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.

 
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.

 
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.

 
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.

 
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.

 
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.

 
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:

 
In all things the greatest of these is love.

 
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.

 
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

Laurel photoBy Laurel Strasshofer

Hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly.” (Ps 17:8b-10)

If you are like me, when you are crying out to God to rescue you from your current circumstances, especially from the wounding of a brother or sister in Christ, you tend to shy away from praying such prayers as David did. Surely, such calls to God for safety, protection, vindication and rescue are only meant to be asked when those who don’t know Him are the source of our wounding or troubles! It would be wrong to ask Him for such deliverance from the hands of fellow believers, right?

I was pondering over this a short while ago – and feeling guilty for making the cry of the Psalmist my own prayer – when it occurred to me David’s own call to God for rescue from his “deadly enemies” had to do with his flight from Saul.  Saul – who once considered David his confident and friend.  Saul – appointed of God to be king of Israel. Saul – a God-follower. A God-follower who unwittingly fell into fear and pride and as a result became David’s accidental enemy.

…though I am God’s child, I can become an accidental enemy of those I lead…

This made me wonder, “Have I ever, through my own actions, become an accidental enemy of those I lead?”  How many times, when thinking I was doing right by my team, had I actually inadvertently “closed my heart” and been a source of wounding to them? This caused me serious introspection as I considered the consequences of unintended harsh leadership that can come from blinding pride.

It is sobering to know that though I am God’s child, I can become an accidental enemy of those I lead by:

  • Responding to people based on perceptions instead of reality (assuming instead of asking)
  • Expecting the worst of someone (starting with distrust instead of trust)
  • Speaking negatively (gossiping about or criticizing instead of speaking well of those we lead)
  • Behaving with indifference (being aloof; treating people like things [or a means to an end] instead of valued contributors with hopes, dreams, hurts and joys of their own)
  • Self-promoting (taking credit for the work of others instead of recognizing and elevating them)
  • Blaming (pointing fingers instead of accepting responsibility)
  • Minimizing efforts (demoralizing with words like, “How hard can that be?” or, “What does she do all day, anyhow?” This could also be done by frequently changing plans without consideration for the work your team has already invested in the process.)
  • Letting ego rule (responding out of fear someone might outshine or know more than us instead of ceding to his expertise and encouraging his growth)
  • Holding onto offenses (bringing up the offense or continuing to use it as an excuse for distrust long after the incident is past instead of offering restoration)

So, what can we do to try to avoid becoming the source of someone’s cry to God for rescue and relief?

Perhaps we could follow David’s cue. Because he was keenly aware of the deceitfulness of pride and that he may have his own blind spots, he regularly gave God permission to expose those things in him. It was not uncommon for him to make his prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Ps 139: 23 & 24)

I am making this my prayer today, too.  May I lead with love. Always.