Category Archives: Friendship

Focus on Friendship Challenge #1

It’s time! Are you ready to focus on friendship?

You can read the introductory post here.

Friends Challenge

I’ll start off by being completely honest with you. I need this challenge to keep me accountable and focused. I could list all kinds of reasons why I have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. But then you could do the same, couldn’t you? Because all of us are busy, tired, overwhelmed, and/or uninspired because of life’s challenges.

So I’m pushing through the excuses since excuses will never go away. I have no guarantees that I’ll have more time in the next season of my life. I do, however, hope to still have the wonderful friends God’s placed in my life through many seasons to come, so today I choose to be intentional.

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Identify a friend of yours that you know is hurting or going through an extra difficult time right now. If you’re aware of what she’s going through, the odds are you’ve already expressed your support and prayers for her. Sometime this week, go an extra step. Do something special to let her know she’s loved. Take her a meal, a cup of coffee, a plate of cookies, some new nail polish, a book or magazine – something that you know would ease her burden or brighten her day a little.

Here’s a personal example of how powerful a simple act can be. I recently had a friend hand-deliver a card showing support when she knew I was going through a hard time. It was extra special to me to not only get that simple, meaningful card, but also get to hug her and see her reassuring smile.

Go get busy! You have one week before the next challenge in our mission to show appreciation and love to the friends with whom God has blessed us. If you would like, let us know when you accomplish your goal either on the blog or on the Facebook page.

We are not Islands

There’s something indescribable about following God. I started this blog a little over a year ago without much of a clue why except that I felt God urging me to do it. I was even more clueless about all that went into blogging. (I’m extra thankful for women like Amy & Ashley who have either shared tutorials or personally taken time to get me out whatever technical bind I found myself scratching my head over.)

As I continued to learn and read more about what makes a “successful” blogger, I began feeling extremely overwhelmed. My audience was not growing by leaps and bounds. My eyes continued to cross every time I attempted to understand the analytics jargon I kept reading about. All I knew was that by the standards repeated in the articles I was reading, I was not succeeding, and I went through a long period of being extremely discouraged.

But there were the few who were still reading. Patiently accepting me for who I was when I had yet to learn about niches or true success in blogging. The ones who would leave comments filled with encouragement or like my link on Facebook. While several of these women were my real-life friends already, there were even a few more who grew to become my friends because they chose to invest in whatever it was I was trying to figure out through writing.

It was somewhere around the time I found peace with letting go of statistics and SEO building (which gives me a headache to try and fully comprehend to this day) that God started speaking to me again about a new direction He wanted me to go in my writing. Blogging helped me see friendship in a fresh light. It helped me visualize what quality friends look like in a world that is all about networking and connecting without the commitment of relationship.

And the vision was born to write a book on a topic over which I have contemplated a great deal over the years.

Friendship.

What is it? Why is it so hard? Why do I sometimes find myself lonely despite the wonderful relationships with which I’m blessed?

I began outlining and writing, writing, and writing some more. The next thing I knew, I realized that I had a viable eBook in the works. So I started researching all that went into making it happen. I’d be lying if I told you the to-do list didn’t overwhelm me. There was no way on earth I could do this on my own. It may be called self-publishing, but that term is misleading.

It requires a strong network of friends to make it happen. I needed friends who would listen to me sort out the ideas. I needed friends who had the experience in writing and publishing to offer advice and perspective. I needed friends who would step out on a limb and edit the words that didn’t quite say things the way I intended for them to sound. I needed friends to know what I was doing so I would have accountability to not stop even when it would have been far easier to give up long ago.

As I called my cousin one night close to the end of the process to get some advice, I said that I wished I could help him at least a little bit after all of the ways he’s helped me as I’ve fumbled my way through blogging and writing. His response, “None of us are islands, Kel. We all need help.”

How true his words are! No one is self-made, self-published, or self-satisfied. Obviously we need God, but we need the people He’s placed in our lives as well.

Today I say thank you to the friends who have not allowed me to be a vacant island that is dormant, but for loving me enough to push me beyond my comfort levels and dream big.

Only 8 more days until this small symbol of God’s desire for friendships becomes a reality!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Discovering and Choosing True Friendship

From the beginning of mankind, God saw that we had a need only able to be fulfilled by each other.

When God, for the first time since creating the world uttered the words, “It is not good,” it was after observing Adam’s aloneness.

In His sovereign wisdom, God knew beforehand that He would create Eve, but He wanted Adam to see the difference human relationship makes in life. The richness, the joy, the depth that comes with sharing life with another.

And so God create Eve. To be Adam’s helper, wife, and friend.

God created one of the most beautiful mysteries the day that He created Eve for Adam. He created human relationship.

Relationship has continued to bless, stress, confuse, and uplift humanity in the years following its creation. No human has lived without contemplating this unique gift that God has bestowed upon us, trying to decipher its complexities.

Strangely enough, as much as we all crave it, valuing friendship in our modern world has become lost in our quest to fulfill the duties that come with having busy lives. While there are many invaluable resources available to strengthen family relationships, it becomes a bit more challenging to find resources explaining how to foster quality friendships.

Several months ago, God began speaking to me about this matter that has always intrigued me. I could not shake the feeling that He wanted me to share at least a small part of His message about friendship.

My immediate reaction was trepidation. I’m no expert in this field, after all – just another human being who has had her fair share of lessons learned the hard way. But then God gave me an outline as clear as any outline I’ve spent hours trying to perfect, only this one came in a matter of minutes. It was in those few minutes as I scrambled to write down the words that came to me so suddenly that I realized this message was from God. I didn’t need to be an expert with a degree in interpersonal relationship counseling. I simply needed to follow God’s leading on this.

That’s what I’ve been doing in the months following the revelation. Now it’s time to start talking specifics with anyone willing to listen. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you already knew that I’ve been working on a book about friendship. But now I’m ready to start sharing my passion that has only grown on this topic of quality friendship in greater detail.

Lord willing, I will launch the eBook “Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World” on December 6th of this year. (Here’s a sneak peak of the cover photo!)

Would you like to be a part of helping this launch take place? If so, please read the information I have under the “My eBook” tab at the top of the blog. Next, email me, leave a comment with your email address included, or somehow let me know that you are interested in reviewing the book. It is crucial that I have as many people as possible help spread the word about this book! Even if you think the audience of your blog is too small, I promise it’s not! Plus, you get your own copy of the eBook for free, and who doesn’t love free stuff?!?

Not a blogger? That’s okay, too. I would greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word once launch day arrives through whatever social media or word-of-mouth forms you feel comfortable using.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

A Box of Chalk + Giveaway

She has no idea I’m sharing this until she reads it, but I have to tell you that Ashley applied what she talks about in this post to me in many ways last week. First off, she wrote this post for me when I asked for guest posters. She also rearranged our playdate plans and hauled all three of her children to my house when I couldn’t drive because of my injury, AND she showed up with two meals for me to stick in the freezer since I can’t cook much right now. That, my friends, is love in action. Thank you, Ashley, for being a genuine friend that shows the love of Christ to others such as me!

Teachers' Tool
Photo Credit

It was the first week of my first year of teaching and one of the hardest weeks of my life.  I was starting three weeks into the school year; I was commuting 40 minutes to work; and the squirrely 8th graders had already broken in three different teachers when they got me.  They were fully accustomed to considering the language arts period as playtime.  They took one look at 23 year old me and decided it would remain play time.  I had other plans.

I arrived early every day and stayed late.  I went home frustrated over the behavior of the students.  I sent three students to the principal’s office that first week.  I was three weeks behind on the curriculum and trying desperately to get a handle on it.  And to top off all these bigger concerns, the previous teacher had purposely stripped the classroom of all things useful.  I had no supplies.  None.   I remember my shaky knees on those first days as I stood before the class in that drafty old classroom and wrote my name on the board with a piece of chalk the size of my pinky fingernail.  It was terrible.

So you can imagine my feelings when I received a large brown box in the mail from my mother-in-law, Sandy, and opened it up to find every kind of school supply a teacher could need—including two big boxes of white chalk.  I’m pretty sure that I cried over that chalk.

It’s only one occasion of countless times my mother-in-law has shown love through gift giving or acts of service. My husband and I have moved three times in seven years of marriage and each time, she has cleaned our new home from top to bottom before we moved in.  God has uniquely equipped her to show love through gift-giving and service.

1 John 3:18 says, “Let us not love with words or tongue with but with actions and in truth.”

I have to admit, it is easier for me to love with words and tongue. I am a communicator. I write and I speak and language is my love language.  I can speak words of encouragement, write an email, talk one-on-one and these are my favorite ways to show love.  But through my mother-in-law and many people who have shown me love through acts of service or a thoughtful gift, I have learned the value of being loved this way.

The Bible specifically instructs me to love with actions and in truth. This implies that it is possible to speak something with your tongue that is not true enough to show in your actions. Talk is cheap. I know this is sometimes true with me. I say I am so concerned about someone who is in the hospital, but am I concerned enough to visit or drop a meal off for the family? Sometimes I am too busy, too lazy, or too unconcerned. Sometimes I am intimidated or overwhelmed with the needs of my own family.

But I want to grow in loving people this way, even though it does not come as naturally for me.  James chapter 4 also tells me that, Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  Often I think of a kind action to do for someone or a gift that would bless them, but fail to carry out those good intentions.  Remembering what that box of chalk meant to me is inspiration to bless others as I have been blessed. I’m grateful to my mother-in-law for showing me this kind of love.

Lord, may my actions reflect your Father-love toward others and my gifts reflect your grace.

Giveaway! If you could use 100 free pictures from Shutterfly, please leave a comment then enter your name in the giveaway box below telling us one action you could take or gift you could give this week to show love to someone.  Then go do it!  If you are the winner of the drawing, Kelly will send you the code for the free pictures via email. Thanks!

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A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

Don’t Lose Faith, Weary Encourager

 Sisters in Bloom

Encouragement is one of the core foundations for friendship. I believe God equips each of us to encourage those around us, but let’s be honest: sometimes it can be exhausting and we don’t always see immediate results.

Thankfully, God has left no life situation unaddressed in His Word. Join me over at Sisters in Bloom today where I share what I learned about the power of our faith when it comes to encouraging our friends.

 

BFF-less {Guest Post}

Today I welcome Sarah from In Total Disarray. Sarah and I met through blogging a few months ago, and God has really used her to encourage me on many occasions. Won’t you take time to encourage her as she shares one aspect of friendship that she continues to work through in this journey through life? Oh, how long the list of topics on this issue of friendship grows!

Photo Credit

I never was one of the “cool” kids. I’m not sure what that even means, really.

I guess to me it means that I didn’t have many friends growing up. There was a girl who lived down the street from me in grade school, but she moved away. My BFFs in middle school and high school came and went for various reasons. Either they were “into” things that I shouldn’t be or they got boyfriends and I got left out. Or they wanted to be cheerleaders and I didn’t.

I met several amazing friends in college. They are probably as close as I have ever come to the type of friendship I have always longed for. But now we each live hours apart.
I always have wished I had that one, true friend that I could count on through thick and thin. The one I could cry with. The type of girlfriends who would drop everything when the other one needed her. We would have been each others maids of honor.  We would be at births and birthday parties. We would talk a lot some weeks and not at all others. We would really know each other and love each other anyway.

But that’s simply not the case for me. Sure, I consider my husband to be my best friend. And me and my mom are really close. But it’s just not the same.

I don’t have a best friend. And that makes me feel left out.

That may sound silly, I’m sure. Being a grown woman, a wife and mom and still feeling left out when it comes to friends.

But making friends once you are a wife and a mom, once you have left a place and come back to it years later, is hard.

Everyone already has a best friend, it seems, and there is no room for another. Or so it seems on the surface. (Proverbs 20:6 – NLT): “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?”

Sure there is a group of women that I enjoy “girls night” with from time to time. But I don’t truly know any of them on a deep level at all. I wish I did. But I’m not sure how to do that.
I am socially awkward when I try to make friends. I get nervous and I get sweaty. I start to ramble or I clam up. Seriously ridiculous.

I don’t have the answer here. I really don’t know how to remedy this. But I will keep trying to put myself out there. And hopefully, prayerfully, over time, I will make a true friend.

How have you made friends as you have journeyed through the different stages in your life?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – ESV
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Sarah is the wife of a professional firefighter and mom of three children under the age of 7. She has been navigating the murky waters of stay-at-home-momhood for over a year now. She relies on her faith in God to see her through it all as she tries to be a faithful servant, share her heart with other women, mother her children and love and respect her husband. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.

We’re focusing on friendship this week. Have you missed a post? Be sure to check them out!
The Sweetness of Amish Friendship Bread

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

The Sweetness of Amish Friendship Bread

I awoke early last Monday with an energy unusual for me. It was Amish Friendship Bread making day, and I had a friend to whom I wanted to deliver it. As I got out the ingredients and began the process of preparing my new starter bags, I couldn’t help but think about the beauty behind this sweet bread.

When a friend handed me the starter the week before, I took it with excitement, but each day that I mashed and released air from the smelly ingredients in the Ziploc bag I began to comprehend the depth of this gift’s meaning.

This bread is more than a sweet treat. It is a symbol of what friendship is meant to be. It requires effort every single day, some days more work than others, but if I forget about it and do not tend to it carefully, the bread is ruined.

And now that bread-making day had arrived, the sweetness of friendships God has placed in my life began flowing freely in my memory. How blessed I am with the friends God has given me! Each one contributes a unique perspective that I would be poorer for not having gained.

While I poured out the starters into new bags, the excitement began to grow. “LORD, give me opportunities to share these symbols of true friendship to friends that don’t often hear my words of appreciation. As they start their own process of making the bread of friendship, enrich their own view of those women who make their lives better.”

The sentiments continued growing as the scent of cinnamon bread baking filled my home. Today I had the chance to share a picture of my growing view of friendship with an old friend. Seven years have a way of maturing girls into women, and I couldn’t help but anticipate learning how God had been working in her life as He has in mine since our final days of college.

I smiled as I worked to carefully remove the freshly bake loaves from the pan, only to discover that yet again, I left the bottom of the loaf attached to the bottom of the pan. No longer did I have a beautiful symbol to present to my friend, but a flawed one. Pushing aside the urge to keep the loaf in hiding, I quickly accepted the more realistic picture of friendship I could hand her. So when I arrived with my somewhat mangled loaf of bread, I presented her with a picture of the real me. The one who has ugly flaws but earnestly works to be there for those I love anyway.

She received my humble gift with a grace-filled, “I’ve never figured out that trick of removing loaves from pans either.”

Then we can work to figure it out together. Our friendship can grow because we have a common need for grace and opportunities to learn. We can work to nourish each other by sharing our hearts as we discover our ever-changing purposes as wives and mothers.

This is the sweetness I found in a Ziploc bag filled with a mysterious starter. An added motivation to pursue God’s call to write about friendship even when it’s hard, and to put what I learn into action when it is even harder.

Will you join me this week through my posts as well as guest posts, and in the months to come as I work to finish my eBook on the topic of what quality friendship is really all about? I find friendship is more effective when it’s not done alone, so please join in, my friends.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.