A Drought of Friendship

Over the past 5 or so years I have been living in a drought of friendship.  I’m not sure how it happened, because I had many close friends in my late teens and early twenties, but as life happened and people moved around I found myself without much fellowship.  I had a few people that I would call on the phone or talk to online, but I lacked in person female bonding.  I remember traveling through Oklahoma and spending a few days with a friend from school there, and we spent the whole time curled up talking about life and God, watching sappy tv shows and drinking cocoa.  My heart needs that connection.

I worked with women that I talked to a lot, and I married and had a beautiful baby, so my life wasn’t devoid of human interaction.  But something is different.  Sometimes you need a friend that clicks with you at the heart.

Something that I had taught myself years ago was to go to God first with my feelings.  I am apt to emotionally vomit on people and never get around to prayer, so it is good for me to work things through with God before I talk them over with someone else.  During the drought I went to God a lot, and I worked on investing in my relationship with him.  I prayed about this lack of friendship and asked for him to fill the dry cracks that I felt in my life because of it.

Another thing that I struggled with was overlooking opportunities for friendship because they didn’t fit my preconceived mold of what I was looking for.  God has always paired me with weird people, but for some reason it is hard for me to let go of wanting “cool” friends.

Eventually, I reached out.  I stopped hoping for a friend to come to me, and instead I decided to be that friend.  I realized that I have a lot to offer, and that my strengths are perfectly suited for deep and meaningful relationships.  And I stopped looking for friendship where I expected to find it.

I now have a few women that I see regularly and consider close friends.  I also have a few women that I see infrequently but I have purposed that when we visit I ask intentional questions and share my true heart because I love them and refuse to live in a shallow place with them.  I have also let go of a lot of past insecurity and am trying to build relationships with people that I was intimidated or irritated by before.

If you are going through a friendship drought, be encouraged.  First, you have the ultimate friend in Jesus, and maybe this is the time that you need to build your reliance on him.  Secondly, stop looking for the type of friends you want and start praying about being a friend to the people God has put around you.  The weird ones always make the best friends.  And when you find that person that your heart clicks with, it is like a drink of fresh water in the middle of a long drought.

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A New Venture with c0ws…that’s a zero there.

I am part of a group of writers who decided to start a new site: cows.com. It’s a bit tricky because the ‘o’ is actually a zero, but it’s fun to type. My first post is on how to do volunteer facepainting with kids and it has been a challenge to learn about Amazon affiliate stuff along with the rest of the skills I will need to make money on the internet.

One of the reasons I am doing this isn’t so much the money (although it helps) as it is the opportunity to work alongside people outside the Body of Christ. I miss that reminder of the difference in perspective salvation brings and it seems like God is putting me in this spot to be a little bit of salt. So we shall see what happens.

If you go to c0ws.com it will be a conglomerate of something new all the time, with different kinds of posts from many types of writers with completely different views on life. So far there is are lifestyle, entertainment, business, and technology sections along with some columns. It kind of reminds me of Mars Hill when Paul walked along those busy intersections of life.

 

Soup Night and Star Biscuits

It started out as an endeavor to feed the intern, a young man who wanted to shadow our pastor and learn about ministry.

Adam was going to sleep in the upstairs room at the church, and we told him he could come over on Monday nights and invite friends. To make it simple, I make soup and biscuits. This way it’s no big deal if people don’t show up, and there’s plenty of food.

It has become a regular thing. Soup night is beloved by a small group of young adults and is one of my current blessings. I love that they come and crowd around the table shoulder to shoulder, with the overflow leaning against the counters. I make at least one pot of soup and usually make star biscuits.

Star biscuits are cut with a star cookie cutter. When my kids were small, I’d use cutters to make different shapes of biscuit when I had time. If I am in a hurry, those biscuits are square. The recipe has become the simplest imaginable: KAF self-rising flour and heavy cream. Combine to make the dough, pat & cut, bake at 425…how easy is that? Serve with butter and the favorites: honey and homemade concord grape jam from our picking trips to New York State.

I think what the group who loves soup night really loves is the feeling that they are welcome and favored. I make the biscuits because they like it. I try to do soup without MSG or gluten because there are a few who can’t handle those things. They are free to come or not come, and it’s okay. A few have confessed that they have now tried new things because the soup often changes to fit my larder.

I can’t describe how much we are blessed by this night every week. It’s rich and rewarding to know each person.

They come, talk, eat, usually play a game or two, and leave discussing which movie they will watch. We watch the taillights leave the dark driveway and are glad they came.

Sometimes it just hurts

I was with a friend today…a friend who is stressed and hurting and getting to the point of numb, angry bitterness at all the things piling up in her life.  There’s so much she can’t control and she feels like all her efforts are just a waste of time.

Not the best time to point out that, yes, all your efforts ARE a waste of time if you think you will control circumstances and people.  I did share some of my past struggles but mostly I listened.

Because sometimes, it just hurts and you need to talk about how you feel and think even when you know you are wrong for thinking that way.  Sometimes, the weeds have to be exposed and pulled out so the seed of the Word can grow freely.

Tuesday nights & testing

Tuesday nights are our date nights…we go to a small Spanish class nearby and attempt to learn the language, and then go out to a small diner and attempt to review the class.  It has been a good thing even though we don’t learn as fast as we’d like.  Tonight there was a test, and the teacher’s goal was for us to see that we had actually learned something…everyone got some words right!  There is progress, it is just sloooow progress.

I am reminded of how I spent my day today…I sat with a church friend who has just come home from surgery after a bad car accident while his wife went to work for the first time since the crash.  He would probably have been all right, but she worried that he might not and so he cheerfully accepted my presence to make her feel better.  A small thing…but their marriage is being slowly healed as God brings new life into a marriage once fractured in more painful pieces than his body is right now.

Both are young believers: he actually shared his testimony a few months ago to announce his trusting in Christ for salvation.  Both bring baggage to the home they share, and things have been rough at times.  This accident has been like our Spanish test…it is revealing the things they are getting right.

Progress!

Hospitality & expectations

Tonight we had a party; our daughter is leaving for Guam next week and she wanted to see her friends so she invited all sorts of people over and we did a campfire, set up a canopy with a picnic table (with electricity so there were lights and a fan!  Woot!) and not everyone came…and we knew they could not all come….but the right people came; those God had in mind.

I think that this evening was a good reminder for me.  The fact that our family worked together to get ready but we did not stress about everything being ‘perfect’ and we were glad to see our friends made them glad to be here.  What was important was not the entire guest list coming, or the menu, or the setup.  The important thing was cherishing the time as a gift from God, and welcoming those who were here.

Being prepared made it easier to welcome guests but the most vital preparation happened in my heart.

Every green plant for food

In Genesis 1:30, God says He has given every green plant for food to all the life that He made. I had to go look it up; I just brought home another huge bag of green stuff from the crop share I joined for the first time this year.

I had not previously thought that my diet was all that limited because I eat more types of vegetables than the rest of my family. But this has stretched my boundaries considerably! I have discovered that I don’t know much at all about ‘all the green plants’ God has given for food. And some of them look suspiciously like the weeds in my yard. Some smell like a stink bug…googling has resulted in my theory that those particular leaves are cilantro and I don’t know if I can bring myself to use them.

As I sorted through my piles of harvest, it occurred to me that I do this a lot with people….pile ’em up in heaps of familiarity or strangeness and put the unfamiliar ones in a holding pattern to deal with later….often later means ‘didn’t happen’ and I end up discarding a slime pile or waving at a neighbor for years without actually connecting. (Maybe I should walk across the road with a bag of lettuce.)

It occurred to me also that I disregard the vast majority of what God has blessed me with, simply because I would have to trust Him to give me wisdom to deal with it.