Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Have a Friend, Be a Friend

I've always liked people.  They're interesting, funny, obnoxious, and valuable.  Sometimes friends and family get a bit embarrassed at my knowing someone almost every time we go out to eat locally.  I, on the other hand, always like to greet my friends - old or new.

My need to relate to people has been both rewarding and distressing.  One young lady regularly shares with me her frustrations, questions and lack of faith.  I love her dearly, but I can't seem to find exactly the right words to share with her to make it all better.  A small friend, a four-year-old girl from church, hugs my legs tightly and tells me how much she likes me. "I want to go to YOUR house," she says.  Priceless!  I still see people I went to grade school with, and, of course, I simply MUST speak to them and make some kind of connection.

One of the greatest rewards of being friendly is .  .  . well, having friends!  Real friends.  Genuine.  Nothing phoney or pretentious.  Friends that know you almost as well as they know their own family, yet stick by you, laugh with you and cry with you.  I especially like it when friends put their work frocks on, even though I never have the nerve or abandon on my own to ask them for help.

Since Don has been ill, there are lots of things that need done that he would have ordinarily done.  I try to keep things up, but I've had a health issue or two that have prevented me from being as efficient at it as I would like.  Last weekend, a dear friend from church (I've literally know him since he was born, so he's quite a lot younger than Don and me) had voiced a desire to come over this week and do some "honey do" things for us.  Over the course of Friday and Saturday, we had 20 people show up to do various odd jobs around the house - painting, cleaning, re-hanging light fixtures and closet doors, and much more.  They brought food and came wearing smiles.  What a blessing they were to us.  Projects that it would have taken me days to do were done in a matter of hours.  We all had such a good time.  There was family here, intermingled with lifelong friends and friends we've only had for a few months.  A real mixture.  A basketful of blessings.

Then, this afternoon, I was laying on the couch resting, because I've been sick this week.  There was a knock at the door.  I opened the door to find my grandson's girlfriend standing there with a little gift bag in hand.  I didn't invite her in, because I didn't want to give her my bug.  The bag was from Kristen and two other young ladies in the church (none of them married) and had baggies of goodies they had made by hand.  How truly pleasant it was to be remembered.  My heart was touched.

While my friendships sometimes bring a bit of discomfort or inconvenience with them, they're certainly worth having.  Life would be much too bleak and lonely without a few good friendships sprinkled along the way.  Are you friendly?  Try it, you might like it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Time to Plant, and a Time to Reap . . .

I've come to realize more and more the last few years that our lives are made up of seasons - some more pleasant (like Spring and Fall), full of vibrant color, heady scents, and pleasant days, and others more trying, with their hot, sultry temperatures, or frigid blasts of cold.  But I continue to learn more about myself in these not-so-pleasant seasons of life.

Have you noticed how wonderful the air-conditioning feels on those humid, breath-stealing days of summer?  Or how pleasant it is to dip your feet into the little stream at the edge of the woods?  Maybe your pleasure is that steaming cup of hot chocolate, snuggled up on the couch with your favorite person/people and watching an old movie while the cold winds of winter howl outside your window.  No matter the season, there are elements of pleasure, satisfaction and fulfillment waiting, if we're persistent enough to find and embrace them.

That's where I am in life.  Don's illness continues to sharpen its talons and tighten its grip.  Our 20-year-old house is having little problems of age crop up from time to time.  My 63-year-old body is showing some signs of the years of not exercising enough, or, perhaps, of excessive use of certain muscles.  But, in it all, I've found contentment in being able to spend these quality weeks and months with the love of my life.  The tenderness of friends and family touches me deeply and gives me strength to face one more day.  The ever-faithful love of my Heavenly Father encourages me and uplifts me. 

There's no escaping the heat or the frigid cold of our lives.  But I do believe we can keep it on the outside.  Not be overly influenced by it.  Some days, I find this perspective and sunny outlook more difficult to come by, but my goal is to recognize the seasons of life and glean the best from each of them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hanging On!

The last couple of days have been a bit more difficult for me emotionally than usual.  Sometimes it's hard to live by faith when you're dealing with reality.  If you've never had to deal with terminal illness, death, or other misfortunes of life, don't be quick to judge.

I want to be "a woman of faith."  Instead, I find myself becoming tired, more tired, and most tired - physically, emotionally and (yes, I admit it) even spiritually.  I don't understand why miracles don't occur EVERY time we ask, if we're doing our best to live an upright life before God.  I don't understand why miracles happen one time and not another.  What's the formula?  Is there a secret code?  Doesn't God see or care?

I rest in knowing that He DOES see, and He DOES care.  That's why He has given me some priceless relationships with special friends along the way.  That's why He has given me such a special man to spend my life with.  That's why He gave us two wonderful children, a precious daughter-in-law and five super grandchildren.  That's why my extended family, on both sides, is so unbelievably supportive and affirming.  He cares and He sees.  Some of it is left up to me.

Even when I'm feeling my weakest, I know that I can hang onto Him.  He never weakens, gets tired of supporting me, or turns a deaf ear.  What a comfort!  So, at the moment, I'm just hanging.  Sometimes it's barely by a toenail, but "this, too, shall pass."  I've put on my armor, and I'm standing my ground.

Ephesians 6:12-16

King James Version (KJV)

12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.