Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I was thinking the other day how I would have loved to have made a cushion for everyone that was a part of our year long study in the book of John...thus the little lavender sachets were created for every one of you!
Looking forward to seeing you girls, poolside tomorrow afternoon at Angie and Marnie's!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Hm-m-m...I wonder if you can guess what it might be!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Today, we are continuing the theme of Friendship that we began last week, looking at the third Pillar of Friendship - Respect. Respect can often be the most neglected aspect in any friendship, simply due to over-familiarity and lack of consideration - and although we are specifically speaking of intimate friendships here, we can, (sadly) actually see this form of neglect quite often played out in marriages.
Respect means "to honour, to esteem, to show consideration for". To "honour" a friend means that we "give place" to them - finding a way of relating to and enjoying them that gives them place. When the Pillar of Respect is neglected, it most often occurs because we have our own needs primarily in mind - of course, this attitude of the heart may never be actually voiced as such, but it does speak loudly through our actions. Sometimes it occurs through simple exuberance of spirit, we are excited about something and just have to call our friend and tell her! There is nothing quite like a sister to enter into our joy with us! I have done this on many occasions, so I am not telling you something that I am so far above I can't relate...with my personality, it is something that I just have to keep an eye on - being mindful in my friendships -thoughtfully considering my sisters and being respectful of their time and their commitments; being purposeful in not becoming a drain on their time, or energies - or simply just bursting in on them at inopportune times! Now I am all for spontaneity, it adds the zest to life - but if inconsideration of others begins to characterize your attitudes in friendship...it has become a problem.
If we purposely set out to treasure our friendships as valuable, we will tenderly care for them; honouring their place in our life and showing consideration for them in a variety of ways - this can be through thoughtful gifts or acts of service, cards of appreciation, a bouquet of flowers, or a phone call just to let them know that we are thinking of them.... All given for no other reason but that your friend is a valuable treasure that you appreciate, esteem and give value to in your life and that you delight in honouring them, "giving them place".
Now, having said all that there is one thing to keep in mind here and that is that how we respect and honour ourselves will often translate into how we respect others. I touched on this in a comment I made on the May 19th entry, "Friendship, A Lovely Garden", where I wrote, "...because the foundation of any thriving garden is good soil, one thing that I have learned to do over the years in preparation to receive those that the Lord brings into my life is based on Matthew 22:37-40. Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and loving others as myself. Here's the thing...I have had to learn to love myself! Not introspective, naval gazing, but honoring the woman that God has created me to be, learning to be gracious towards myself. Girls, I have by no means arrived...this is a definite discipline that I fail at constantly, but God is gracious towards me...He is my example in this! If we will do this simple thing we will find ourselves truly honoring others as the people God created them to be and extending grace to them..."
There have been times in my life where I would never have spoken to another human being the way that I spoke (self talk...a whole other series!) to myself, times when I paid no heed to how tired I was or how overwhelmed I had become, when I was not gracious towards myself by simply honouring how God created me. This was just plain unhealthy, and that was in relationship with myself for heaven's sake!
The blessing of healthy friendship with others is what we see in Acts 28:10, where we see Paul, after landing on the island of Malta, enjoying the "extraordinary kindness" of the islanders, and after spending a number of days with them, blessing them and being blessed in return, he writes in v.10, "and they also honoured us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed." This is respect in the best possible light. The blessing was on both sides.
I pray that your most intimate of friendships holds this precious two-fold blessing.
Now, I am off to pick me up some dining room chairs - I'll let you know how I make out!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Faithful is what we are looking at in this verse...throughout Scripture we see that God Himself is faithful and that this attribute characterizes those who belong to Him. The true spirit of friendship is faithfulness. Faithfulness is loyalty and trustworthiness (we will look a little closer at these two in a moment); faithfulness fosters growth and health in our relationships, and while it has many enjoyable and pleasing out workings, there will be times when faithfulness will require us to confront a friend (or to be confronted by a friend ourselves). This is never easy, and it carries with it the potential of wounding or hurting a friend, however, the risk of "wounding" our friend in order to make the way smooth for God's highest good in their life is one that we should be willing to take, just as we also need to learn to treasure those that God places in our life, that risk wounding us for God's highest good.
It does not always need to be a confrontation about sin, it could be something as simple as coming alongside a girlfriend that is struggling with her diet and is just about to order that cheesecake for heaven sake! But when it comes to those deeper issues of our faith, we just plain need to be sisters that sharpen one another, there is just too much at risk - sin will take you further than you ever intended to go, keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and cost you more than you ever intended to pay. Wounding a friend is always worth the risk.
Faithfulness is not supporting your friends regardless of their behaviour - that is enabling. Faithfulness is lovingly coming alongside a weak or weakened sister, not to expose, but to shed light and to foster a safe place for confession, repentance and healing and new growth.
Of course, there will be times when your friends will make contrary choices, even after being lovingly confronted. As heartbreaking as this is to witness, for our own spiritual health, we must not allow the "works" or "actions" of those who choose to walk away from God and His truth to "cling" to us. The intention should always be to speak truth into and over the situation, not to implicate ourselves in any way with the sin or to become entangled in an unhealthy alliance.
This would be the "weeding out" that we talked about earlier in, "Friendship...A Lovely Garden." However difficult this may be, we have to remember that those who have been carried away by their own appetites (see James 1:13-15) have the distinct ability to reproduce (see 1 Corinthians 6:6) at an alarming rate and will ultimately choke out the life of other healthy plantings. Faithfulness can continue through praying for them...but with some, there does come a time when close proximity can be dangerous.
Which brings us to loyalty. Loyalty is one of the qualities of faithfulness...it is one of the greatest strengths of any friendship. This quality of loyalty, which grows out of faithfulness, is seen beautifully depicted in the life of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-6. Jonathan remained loyal to his friend David in spite of his father's anger and the fact that his loyalty to David would affect his own royal standing in the future. Jonathon took the risk! He could see the hand of God upon David and aligned himself with the purposes of God in David's life.
Loyalty in our friendships is important, but we need to be aware of the dangers of loyalties that have become misguided or misdirected. In order to avoid this, there is a need for perimeters for the greater allegiances in our life. For instance...
No relationship should ever distract us from our relationship with God or the purpose that God has built into our lives. Nor should a friendship ever pull us away from our marriage or family or detrimentally affect other friendships.
Another caution needs to be addressed as well, regarding loyalty - there is always the danger of falling into the trap of nursing people's wounds instead of actively working towards helping them become healed and whole! Many want to be accepted just as they are, an open, festering wound, rather than to grow and heal and learn new behaviours. NEVER build friendships upon the shaky foundation of wounds, and worse yet, common wounds! This can only perpetuate unhealthy thinking and unhealthy example.
We must be committed to building our most intimate of friendships according to the highest common denominator, the Word of God and His purposes for us. Be that friend that encourages and inspires her girlfriends on in the Lord, that they might aspire to reach their full potential in Christ. And require this quality in those that you draw closest to you as well.
Determine not to compromise your own commitment or example to line up with an other's poor thinking or poor example...it will ultimately only condone their behaviour and leave you in a weakened state. Live in such a way that your life is an example to those around you of what a woman of God should look like...not perfect, let's keep this thing real girls! - but taking responsibility for your own growth in the Lord. Our role as a faithful friend is to help others accept responsibility for changing and growing in order to become all that God has called them to be.
Proverbs 18:24 states that, "...a man of many friends will come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Throughout our lives, we will be placed in the midst of many others...we need to understand the differences between "acquaintances" and "friends". Trying to be friends with everyone will ultimately dilute our ability to be a good friend to anyone, and let's be honest, just plain wear us out! When it comes to our loyalties, we need to make Kingdom choices.
Before I completely wear you sweet things out, there is just one more attribute of faithfulness that we need to look at - trustworthiness.
Trustworthiness, stands side by side with loyalty as another one of the qualities of faithfulness. This is a very fragile and critical area, because once trust has been violated it is hard to get back. One question that is beneficial in asking ourselves is, "Am I a trustworthy woman?" Many times, if we are not, we do not believe it to be true of others either, which leads to distrust in relationships and that just makes things messy and inauthentic. Trustworthiness is seen in the life of a woman that mirrors consistency and perseverance in her faith - more than ever before, we sisters need to be seeing this thing in one another, and experiencing this for ourselves. An acquaintance of yours today may become an intimate sister friend of yours tomorrow, simply by seeing the quality of trustworthiness displayed in your conduct today!
God is looking for women whose hearts are completely His - and when He finds these women, He strongly supports them!
"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." 2 Chronicles 16:9
And the most beautiful thing is that those He considers faithful - He strengthens and puts into service!
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service." 1 Timothy 1:12
Love and faithfulness...the first two pillars of any strong friendship - Monday we will look at the Pillar of Respect, until then have a wonder-full weekend!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
As Angie would say...just click to ENLARGE and enjoy visually the bounty that we enjoyed this afternoon...
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
The words friendship and fellowship are found quite often throughout Scripture and are actually interchangeable...in the Old Testament they both come from the same Hebrew transliterated word "COWD" meaning: "a couch, a cushion, a pillow, a friendly conversation among friends". Being very visual and also being particularly partial to cushions and pillows, this paints a beautiful picture to me of the ease and comfortability that true friendship brings.
A few years ago I had been reading a book that contained these lines...
No matter how we look at it, friendships, in all their various shapes and sizes, are an interaction between us and others that profoundly impact our lives.
While Jesus was on earth, there were relational circles in which He moved and lived - there would have been His relationship with His earthly family...father, mother, brothers, sisters...then His extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins...then His friends, then His acquaintances and then those that came across His path each day...and of course, at the centre would have been His relationship with His Heavenly Father.
We also move and live within relational circles, many of the people in these circles we don't get to choose, and yet there are those that we do get to select and invite into our lives...these are the ones that we are going to be looking at over the next few days. (By the way, speaking of circles, when I was a young girl I memorized this poem, "...he drew a circle that shut me out, a heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout...but love and I had the wit to win...we drew a circle that took him in." I had no idea that one day I would think upon those words in the context of Jesus, coming into a world that for the most part, shut Him out, but love... well, didn't God so love the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life? God Himself drew a Circle around this girl that took her in and gave her Life!), but I digress....
From all those that Jesus knew, He chose for Himself twelve; from those twelve there were three that He selected to enter into an even deeper intimacy with Himself. Although there were specific Kingdom purposes in the selection of Peter, James and John from out of the twelve, we can learn from the principles laid out in Scripture as to the choosing and selecting of our own intimate friends.
So out of the many, Jesus chose twelve whom He Himself wanted. This particular circle was now becoming smaller and more intimate.
Then in Matthew 17:1 Jesus then took from these twelve...three.
"...Jesus took with Him, Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves."
It was here, on this mountain, that they were to experience a revelation, an intimate unveiling of Jesus that they were to keep in confidence and tell no one about until Jesus Himself had risen from the dead (Matt 17:9).
We see these three being chosen also in Mark 5:37 and Luke 8:51 when Jesus was going to the house of the synagogue official, we read..."and He allowed no one to accompany (enter) with Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James..."
In Matthew 26:26-35, after all the disciples had partaken of the cup and the bread at the Passover meal, Jesus and His twelve went out to the Mount of Olives, in v. 36-39, when they had reached Gethsemane, Jesus said to all His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed..."
The two sons of Zebedee were James and John, so here, along with Peter, we see these three again being chosen from out of the twelve. Chosen to be with Jesus during a time that He was grieved and distressed. Jesus said to these three, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
From Jesus' invitation, many came - yet out of the many, He selected for Himself twelve and then out of the twelve, an even more intimate three. This is a vital and healthy principle that we should incorporate into our own lives as well. That out of our many friendships and acquaintances, out of all those that we do life with, that we have those intimate few that are witnesses not only to our grieving and distress, but to our joys and delights as well, those who come alongside us to encourage and pray...to "remain and keep watch". Having said that however, we need to see something else.
v.39 "...And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed..."
Friendship is ordained by God, we were never meant to do life alone and isolated. We need our intimate friends, especially during those hard times of life, those that are witnesses to the anguish of our hearts and who can "remain and keep watch" with us. However, there is that point where they must remain and keep watch, and where we must go "a little beyond them"...further still; further still to the place where we meet with God alone, where we fall on our face before Him and allow God to be our most intimate of Friends, beyond all other; the Centre and the Original Circle that begins and ends with only One.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
"Oh!, thankyou!", I exclaimed, as I proceeded to both recieve the flowers and give her a hug.
We had a lovely visit - and by the way...the surprise wasn't the unexpected visit, it's just that our wedding anniversary isn't until next month!
After we both roared with laughter, my dear friend made it quite clear, that when my anniversary does finally arrive, I'm not to be expecting another bouquet of flowers and a card!
Sisters...you gotta love 'em!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
He spent long hours, late into the evening, getting those tiles off. While he was doing that, I was on staple removal duty! Do you have any idea how many staples are used to secure carpet underlay...ALOT! This was how I spent Mother's Day afternoon and I was as happy as a lark...one more staple removed and closer to the goal!