Monday, January 28, 2008

The Power of Friendship

I never much gave thought the fact that Jesus had men with Him all the time. I guess if you just take the Word at face value, you read that Jesus was a man who had 12 disciples and many followers. I realized I'd been missing the point the entire time.

I've noticed lately how little time I spend with my friends. If not by email or phone, I'd rarely keep in contact with any of them. I found out the greatest news from one friend today by her blog, and I learned of how another friend's life changed just in the past month by Facebook. Whether you take it as I have or not, it is time I start making time. I realize that people say when you get married that your spouse becomes your best friend, and BELIEVE ME, mine has. However, I don't think anywhere in Scripture or by common sense does it say to put your friends aside. It actually states, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)."

How have I given of myself lately? I mean, not just to my friends but to my family and husband lately, what exactly have I laid down? I'll tell you what. A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING. It's disappointing really because as a child of Christ I should be on the front lines of friendship, offering myself in any way I can. But I haven't. I can't remember the last time I spoke with Mimi. I haven't talked to Amanda since about a month ago only to tell her I was pregnant. Alicia and I used to be inseparable, and I can't tell you the last time we were in the same room. As for Becca, she and I meet on occasion at events and on the phone, but have I really showed how much I care? Leslie and I talk twice a year, once on my birthday and then a month later on hers. Brittany and I haven't seen each other since my wedding, and yes, that's been almost 10 months ago (I still have a gift for you for doing the guest table, by the way). Mardi and I lost contact and it's mostly my fault. Some of my dearest friends I've totally and utterly let down.

I'm not saying all of this to throw a pity party or get attention for myself, what I mean by all of this is that while shopping for birthday cards today, I was hit with the fact that I allow my friends to be seasonal... What do I mean by that? Well, it's easy... Many of us do it. As humans, we don't understand or even know HOW to "love thee with an everlasting love," as in Jeremiah 31:3. But Jesus walked with His disciples almost every day until He was crucfied, even when they slept and later denied Him. He DIED so that they (and we) could have life. He never once left his disciples, his beloved which means "deeply treasured", his friends behind. That's everlasting, unconditional, and timeless. Is that what I have with my friends? Is that the kind of friend I've been willing to be?

What about to my family? Have I forsaken them? Yes, at times. Have I left them behind? Yes, often. Have I ignored them? Yes, too many times to tell. Have they ever ONCE left me behind? No, never. I've been blessed with the most spiritual, loving, and gracious family I could ever have. I just now can see that as I've grown older. But I still distance myself. I don't know why, but I do. The Word says, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ (1st John 1:3)." If I don't fellowship with you, then our friendships aren't strong at all. I have to take time to make my friendships as Jesus Christ made His own. Who have you forsaken today? Have you called that friend that truly needs one? Did you listen when your friend called for help? Were you there for those little things, not just the special occasions, in your friends' lives? I pray that God will help me and us become more aware of how blessed we are with friendships and love. It is one of the most special relationships we have, not just for our benefit, but to lead our friends to Christ.

Becoming a Faithful Friend,

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Power of Words

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

I didn't really understand how powerful words actually were until the past few days... As Brian headed off to Jamaica, I realized how much I missed his voice, and not just his voice, but the words of love he always gives to me. When he left Thursday morning, I knew those simple words were gone... atleast for a period of 8 days. It was awesome to head to the bathroom that morning he left to find a small, yellow post-it note with the most beautiful words, encouraging me to find comfort in our Lord. Even those few words were enough to get me through the day, or so I thought.

I headed out the door to head off to work, and soon, I came across a manilla envelope sitting in my driver's seat. It was a gift from my husband, but I was rushed and needed to hurry off to my early morning meeting. Thankfully, Brian called on the way to work; I don't even remember what we talked about other than he was getting a green tea with "no sugar and one Splenda" and that this being away was harder than he expected. It wasn't until I arrived at school and after my meeting that I was able to open the envelope.

It was harder than I could have ever imagined reading that letter... Yes, it was exactly what I wanted, but it was HIM I was longing to hear. I guess the Lord knows what He is doing, as this trip is advancing HIS Kingdom among those people in Jamaica, the place where Brian and I actually met in 2004. I also realized that God was in the middle of teaching us to cling to Him, and that the words we were able to leave and give to one another was a gift from Him as well.

Another blessing came when Brian called last night to tell me he had created an email address to be able to communicate with me over the trip... The church where they are working in this remote town on top of a mountain ACTUALLY has internet now, slow moving internet, but another God-given gift. I woke up this morning to TWO emails from my husband.

I also have learned that words are healing... As I lay in bed last night, one of the first times without him, I couldn't sleep. I was sick with a fever, sore throat, and stuffy nose, but more so, I was longing for him. After figuring that crying was getting me nowhere, I called my sister, who comforted me just by talking to me about school, my being sick, about dinner, etc. In just a few quick minutes, I was ready for bed. How strong words can be in times of need!

I was again sick this morning, and the fever had not subsided leaving me unable to go to school. It wasn't long after waking up a second time around 11 that I saw how lonely I was. I sat feeling sorry for myself, watching hour after hour of t.v. At 3:30, the phone rang and the voice was SO familiar... He had called in the middle of the day for no reason. I felt great again, but soon after, that sadness creeped in again. The devil likes to find us at our weakest and take over... That is, until I got the mail.

I saw a card addressed to me from my childhood best friend. She had sent me a card to tell me Happy Birthday, but her letter inside was so much stronger than just a birthday one. She talked about how she loved me, missed me, and was praying for me. I cannot tell you how those words lifted my heart. I love knowing that God can give us exactly what we need when we need it.

What a blessing it is to know that our God can give us words to bring peace to our hearts through others! As Philipians 4:7 says,
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I am blessed by a God who cares for me deeper than I can for even my husband. The Lord gives us words to live by and love, but how often do we pass them by?! I am thankful for the words I've been given, and I pray that I will take every word to heart.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Little Birthday Message from My Big God

I remember last year on my birthday how sad my heart was...

I had driven alone to my uncle, Gerald's grave, as we shared our birthdays on the same day, and last year was the first birthday I didn't have him to call. What a hard change that was! One I have never truly understood.

I remember receiving a phone call as I was leaving the gravesite, one that I truly needed as that trip was so difficult.

I remember just the following day last year that everything changed. That simple phone call had meant more than just a birthday wish. The voice on the other line met me the next night and we found out that there was something more...

I remember thinking that nothing would ever be the same, and I was right because it hasn't. I've gotten engaged in only 8 days to my pastor, spent 4 hours at Target making a registry, bought our first home, planned a wedding and married him just 2 months later, visited the Grand Canyon, saw the most extravagant wedding in Abilene, Texas, spent an entire summer together, lost my Nana to Alzheimer's, was the most lonely I'd ever been as he left for Alaska, was overjoyed and saddened when he had to return the next day for his Grandaddy's death, spent 8 hours in the hospital with a ruptured cyst, missed the first week of school, changed medications, stayed weak from the cyst, missed more school, were Fishermen for Halloween in the name of our Savior, had Thanksgiving at our house, planned a overscheduled Christmas season, and just then had things started feeling normal.

I remember thinking that I couldn't be pregnant. Oh, I know, if you're not preventing then you're only waiting... And here I am, in for the biggest change of our lives.

I look back at the life God has given me and I see how intricately beautiful it has been. I realize that life was never about me, and that it was simply all for the glory of my Lord. Those things that have happened weren't to see how much I could take, but how much I would lift up God in every change and situation I faced.

I failed... often. There have been many times that I couldn't understand why this or that was happening, and I would simply deny the fact that my God was in control. Looking at it now, it's so evident to me that God was there every step of the way. How amazing that is to me!

I know now that my heart should have never sank last year on my birthday...

It was just another opportunity for God to shine through and make the necessary changes in my life. I am more thankful for this birthday than any before. Yes, maybe it's because I'm married to the most wonderful man, or because our first child is on its way, or maybe because I'm 25 and things seem normal. But they won't stay this way, and I realize that... That's why the truth is clear. It's always been God, never has it been me that my life is all about. What am I going to do with it?