Making Time for Friends

I know—friendships come and go. It’s impossible to be best buddies with every person who steps into our lives or give all relationships equal time.

I “get it.” Not all friendships last a lifetime. But, I still have a really hard time letting go. It’s just who I am—there’s a kind of loyalty that won’t give up until the door has been shut and locked from the other side.

It’s been wonderful reconnecting with high school and college friends through Facebook. I enjoy seeing what they’re doing in their lives whether it be in the kitchen, garden, or with their grandchildren. Why? Why bother with people who live thousands of miles away?

Because regardless we may never physically see each other again, we still share a history.

We sat in classrooms together from the time we were five years old until we stood on stage in our caps and gowns. We played in the same band, sang in the same groups, and cheered at the same football games.

My college friends and I lived through four important years where we shared small apartments, late night study sessions, and experiences that created “adults.”

Years ago I moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest and left behind friends who are still dear to me. We raised our young children together. We saw the kids off at the bus stop, made Halloween costumes together, and lived through five girls sharing the chicken pox. During the summer months, we took our kids to swimming lessons, the beach, and the local library.

Friends I made here—like the two women pictured with me—have stood by me during the darkest times of my life, and they’ve celebrated the happiest times of my life. I know I can trust them to be there for me at any given time. All I need to do is call …

Friends I’ve made through writing offer encouragement, knowledge, and advice. While we share common professional goals, we also share our personal lives.

Two years ago my husband and I made the difficult decision to change churches—and I was dreading telling friends there—afraid they’d think that in some sense, we were also leaving them. But the friendships have remained strong. Why? Because we make time for each other.

Like marriage, friendship takes work. These relationships need tending on a regular basis. Sometimes it means being willing to get in the car and meet someone for coffee. Other times, it may require picking up the phone or writing an e-mail to just check in.

My friendships are important to me. I’m not always the perfect friend—I’ve made some pretty huge blunders in the past. But I won’t give up on people—I can’t.

Sure, I understand … there are times when interaction with a person become toxic. When a relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to let it go.

But, let’s not discard friendships or let them fade out of laziness, thinking we’re too busy, or an unwillingness to forgive a transgression. There’s too much to lose! 

Do you make time for friends? Is there someone you need to reach out to?


It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Most often there are more ways than one to physically or mentally view something, but are we always willing to look?

I recently took over a frustrating project from my husband and we both learned a lesson …

He enjoys grilling and took a step up this year by taking a six-hour class on grilling and smoking. To better enjoy his hobby, he built his own smoker. Once he had everything set up, we realized it would be helpful for him to have stand where he could set the food and various tools.

So, we searched and found the perfect thing for the right price on Amazon. He could store his gloves and utensils inside, and the unit would fit between the grill and the smoker. But when it arrived, he couldn’t assemble it. The pieces were supposed to just pop together—but no amount of force would convince the first two pieces to unite.

I looked at the directions—knowing that like many men, he often doesn’t take the time. I ran into the same problem. We set it aside and he called a help line, but received no answers.

We decided to return the product, and I contacted Amazon, but was told that we would get a response within a few days from the manufacturer. In the meantime, I spent time going through the many Amazon reviews. They were split. Some people loved the prep table, saying it went together with no problem. Others had our same experience—the pieces didn’t connect.

Then I came across a review where the purchaser said once he realized his error, he laughed at himself. He’d been trying to attach the door to the wrong side. Once he flipped the bottom piece over, the unit went to together like a charm.

I read his review to my husband, and he went into the other room and attempted the task again. No luck.

That night, I just couldn’t let it go. Something told me inside that what I’d shared with my husband hadn’t clicked. After he went to bed, I tackled the project again—only this time approaching it a different way.

It worked!!!

Within an hour and a half, I had the prep table put together and standing in the kitchen for him to see first thing in the morning.

I was quite proud, and he was thrilled! The experience reminded us that sometimes we get too locked into doing something one way. Then we get angry when things don’t work—when all it might take is a willingness to look at a problem differently.

Our limited perspective doesn’t just apply to projects. It affects the way we view people, politics, cultures, religions—almost anything.

What if we were willing to take the time to see another way—another side?

Perhaps more problems would be solved … and people would appreciate what others have to offer.

Have you ever had to adjust your thinking in order to solve a problem?


Can You Walk by Faith?

Some years ago, while going through a particularly rough time in my life, I heard the song, “Walk by Faith,” by the group called Out of the Grey. I teared up every time I heard it. When the music played through my car radio, I hoped the person driving next to me didn’t wonder if I was losing it.

I didn’t cry because the song made me sad. I cried because it gave me so much comfort and hope at a time when my world seemed to be crashing in around me.

I still hold that song close to my heart, and whenever I have doubts about where my life is going, the music and words remind me. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.

The verse in 2 Corinthians reminds us to step forward—believing that God has a plan, and that he’ll show us the right path. The lyrics in the song mention that though the road ahead isn’t clear, God has brought us here. We don’t have anything to fear.

Sometimes we act like we have more confidence in ourselves than in God. But faith is believing God is working on our behalf, even when we don’t initially see the results.

By having faith, we’re able to grab hold of the power and promises of God. Without faith, we won’t experience the supernatural work of God in our lives. We’ll be limited to what we can accomplish.

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NKJV)

Are you struggling with anything today? May the song below be a balm for your soul.


God Used a Fence to Bring Neighbors Together

How do you feel about your neighbors? Are you friendly? Do you get together for block parties, or do you just wave and go about your day?

We experience a mix in our neighborhood. My husband and I occasionally chat with several couples—the few people who have been around for years. Although we don’t invite each other over for coffee or summer barbecues, we do depend on each other when we need the mail picked up or someone to keep an eye on the place. If someone is going through a difficult time, people reach out a helping hand.

Then there are the neighbors who keep to themselves—like the couple next door. Except for when they entered or left their garage, we rarely saw them. About a year ago, we began to notice some changes. The yard was no longer cared for, and vegetation started to take over. It reached a point where the place looked abandoned. Eventually, it went into foreclosure, the bank took it over, and the people moved away.

The neighborhood waited to see what would happen …

A fence separated the back part of our property from that one, and tall Pyramidalis arborvitae grew between the front yards. But over the winter months, the evergreens died. We chose to not do anything until we could talk to the new owners and come to an agreeable decision—either plant new shrubs or continue the fence.

Before we had the opportunity to talk it over with anyone, people hired by the bank to clean up the place chopped the evergreens down and built a fence. Not a structure that matched the height of the existing fence—one much shorter. And the boards that were pounded into showed on the opposite side as the taller fence!

When we saw what had been done, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Are you kidding me?” We were shocked. How could anyone think that a difference in heights would be appealing?

Soon after, renters moved in. But several days went by without seeing who they were or getting a chance to introduce ourselves.

Then one evening, while I was out watering my flowers, the wife moved garbage cans outside for pickup the next day. We waved, and she came over to chat. Would you believe we stood talking over the fence like old friends for over an hour?

That would never have happened had the fence not been so short!

She, her husband, and young daughter had just moved from Texas—transferred with the Coast Guard. Christians for only a year, she was thrilled to discover that we're also believers. The other cool thing—she’d visited our church several times, loved it, and was planning to bring her husband and daughter the following Sunday (they were both out of town for several weeks). That weekend, we met the rest of the family at church.

My new neighbor and I have both laughed about the silly little fence that exists between our two yards. What we both thought of as an eyesore has actually been a blessing and opened up the way for us to get to know each other.

Have you ever had a situation where you thought something was horrible, only to find out that God used it for good?


12 Years a Slave and Christianity

Disturbing, thought-provoking, heartrending, and powerful … that’s how I would describe the movie, 12 Years a Slave.

I recently sat down to the watch the film—after it reached box office success and won Oscars and Golden Globes. I’m not sure why it took me so long to view the movie, but I’m glad I finally did.

The story is based on the validated autobiography of Solomon Northup. He was a free black man who was abducted in New York State and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s—before the Civil War. Solomon was forced to work on plantations in Louisiana for twelve years before meeting a Canadian abolitionist who came to his rescue.

Solomon experienced kindness from several plantation owners, but he also suffered severe cruelty from others.  I think what was most unsettling for me were the men who professed to be Christians  and preached the Gospel to their slaves, but felt justified in raping women and whipping  to shreds anyone who even just looked at them wrong.

Their actions reminded me of the Pharisees and Jesus being struck until bleeding for doing nothing wrong …

Yet, these slaves who were held against their will and made to suffer such atrocities still clung to their faith and sang songs of praise to the Lord. Amazing.

I don’t understand—and I will never understand—how those who profess to be Christians have over the course of history been so evil and violent—torturing and killing their fellowman. The Crusades. The Holocaust. 

But I guess the truth is that they’re not who they claim to be. They’re not led by Christ but by those evil entities in the spiritual realm who want to do humankind harm.

I’m thankful for movies like 12 Years a Slave because they remind us of the realities of what people have endured and continue to endure around the world today.

Perhaps we can’t physically help those in other countries who are being enslaved and treated with brutality. But we can raise our voices. We can refuse to close our eyes to what is happening.  We can refuse to participate. And we pray …

Have you seen 12 Years a Slave? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t seen this film, do you think you’d like to?


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