Who is a FRIEND?

A friend answers the phone in the middle of the night to reassure that life will get better and God is with you.  A friend makes you laugh, tells you the truth, and forgives you.  A friend walks with you and does not expect you to be perfect.  A friend is someone you should never have to be without.

Friends have meant a lot to me over the years, especially during the past few months.  In a season of so many transitions, at times I have wanted to guard myself from getting close to others.   What happens if we lose touch with one another?  What if…?  

What if I had let the fear of being hurt keep me from making friends?  I would never have been able to re-discover the gift of friends.  Two friends always prayed tender prayers for me during the blessing for our food.  Another friend, a precious child, always greeted with me a smile and a hug.  And of course one of my best friends knows that when I am headed for comfort food she needs to be heading to my house to be with me in the midst of the stresses and disappointments of life.

This week I I joined a Facebook encouragement group formed by (in)courage.  Women from all over are getting together to encourage each other to follow God and to strengthen their marriages (or in my case, soon to be marriage).  These women are my Facebook “friends,” and I look forward to getting to know them better.

Yes, I miss my friends now that we no longer live close to one another, but I am thankful that God allowed us to be friends for a season.  I can’t go thru life fearing saying good bye so much that I never say hello.

So HELLO to a whole new world of intentionally introducing myself to others, meeting new acquaintances, and treasuring new friendships.  And GOODBYE to the fear of losing others that often kept me from being a real friend to others.

 

Thankfulness in the Midst

I easily get frustrated.  Let some situation or person bump into my happy, and my mood is sure to plummet.  However, God has been using so many different situations and people to mold my perspective.

Yesterday, I opened a wedding present that I had been mailed to us.  I opened the card, read the tender note, and as we opened the gift, I found that one of the glasses was broken.  I wanted to get mad that the glass was broken, but yet I saw the blessing of not being cut by the glass.

Last night I got the air mattress out only to realize that the cap for the air mattress has disappeared.  At first I was about to become what Lysa Terkeurst calls “unglued,” but after a deep breath, I was to realize that I could sleep on a futon and all is well.

Today I thought I had broken my friend’s shower head.  Immediately I started worrying that I would not get a shower this morning, and the tape in my head was going on and on.  Yes, I was able to get a shower, I found out the shower head had been broken previously, and I was able to go about my day.

On and on and on I could go about how life’s disappointments turn into ways to be thankful.  For instance, I would not be taking the time to reflect and blog, if the offices where I wanted to run errands opened at 8:00 rather than 8:30.

Where are you seeing God at work in your life?  What are you thankful for in the midst of all that life brings?

Beginnings

Beginnings can be scary.  I was so worried about starting middle school that I threw up on the first day.  Gross, I know!  But I have never been one to handle beginnings or changes well, and yet new beginnings are always on the horizon.

Marrying Adam next month is a beginning that I am excited about.  I never could have imagined that when we met on March 16, 2011 that God would bring us together to be husband and wife.  I never could have imagined that beginning my first church position would start me on the journey of connecting with my “deer.”

Since 2005, I have lived in seven dorm rooms, three cabins at Mundo Vista, one apartment and one dorm room in China, one rental home, and two apartments.  I have had twelve roommates, and beginnings kept coming my way.  God and I have journeyed together!

Next Monday I will begin a new ministry position, and as I pondered the upcoming transition, I was reminded about how God is constant in EVERY beginning.  God’s promises are true as I finish up some chapters and start others, and in some sense, I feel like I have several books open at once in my life.  Nevertheless, the same God who was with me as I nervously faced middle school is with me now, and I am thankful He is continuing to write my life story.

Transitions

Serving God in the midst of transitions can be difficult.  How do you spend your time when you have just a few weeks left at your current place of ministry?  How can you allow God to best prepare you for what comes next?  The joys, tears, hugs, and bittersweet moments of saying goodbye to some and hello to others at around the same time are enough to place you quite the emotional and spiritual roller coaster.

September 22nd will be my last day of serving alongside my First Baptist Church family in Kernersville.  The past year of learning and growing in their midst has been a great formational experience.  I learned more about gardening, hunger insecurity in NC, the liturgical church year, and so many other valuable things.  I served communion for the first time, and I almost caught my robe on fire in the process with the acolyte candle.  I leave FBC knowing that God who called me there is now directing me elsewhere.

On September 23rd I will begin a new journey of ministry at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Garner, NC.  On October 26th I will marry Adam, and we will begin a whole new season of our lives together.  The next few months are going to be full of great joyful moments and many bittersweet ones as well.

Yet no matter what I am facing or how I am feeling I continue to see how God has been at work in this transition and within my heart and life.  Not by coincidence, but rather by divine planing, I am in courses at Campbell that put a heavy emphasis on spiritual growth and personal discipleship.  God is growing me in this season of my life to be a better leader so that I can lead others as we journey with Jesus together.

During my upcoming transitions I appreciate your prayers for me and Adam.  Unfortunately, my TMJ has been aggravated, and so I am taking care of myself so hopefully the pain and discomfort will continue to subside.  Adam and I both are in the midst of school and work while planning for our wedding, and we would appreciate your prayers in this area.  Also, I am seeking part time employment to supplement what I will make at the church.  Please pray that God will lead me to the right part time position for this season of my life.

And praise be to God that we do not walk the journey of transitions alone.  I have seen God in the smiles of children and the beauty of the community garden.  I have felt God in the hugs from friends and in the warmth of the sunshine.  I have heard God in the praise songs on the radio and in the voices of children sharing about their Passport camp experience.  I have smelled God in the freshness of the morning and in the kitchen while cookies are baking.  God continues to remind me that He is with me always!

So with God by my side I am going to ride this roller coaster and treasure the adventure!