Summer is here and it’s a good time to reflect on and reevaluate how the year is going. You and I may have had bodacious plans for 2020, such as traveling to another country, getting fit and losing 20 pounds, or becoming debt-free. We certainly didn’t expect to be in the middle of a global pandemic and seeing riots, looting, and violence over George Floyd and racism.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”– Elisabeth Foley
In my blog on spring, A Chance at Life Again, I shared about my first children’s book that I’m writing, which should be launched in mid-March or late March 2020. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax. The theme is friendship.
I’ve never been the type of person to have tons of friends. Usually, I have anywhere from two to 10 close friends, with whom there is a depth of relationship, instead of having a lot of friends, where the relationships are shallow and even superficial.
In high school, there were cliques. Depending on your looks, clothes, type of car you owned, class grades, your family’s economic status, and more ridiculous things, the cliques were:
- the “popular” group (usually rich, good-looking people who everyone wanted to be friends with);
- nerds (intelligent students in the accelerated learning classes, and sometimes the popular kids were in this group, too);
- jocks (students who played football or basketball, wrestled, were on the gymnastics team, and/or who participated in other sports and were good at them–they were often in the popular clique, too);
- druggies (kids who usually smoked cigarettes and/or pot, drank alcohol, and/or took other drugs. Some of the popular kids indulged in drinking and drugs, and would have parties);
- others who didn’t fit into any of the above cliques. Painfully shy and socially awkward, I was in this group, often eating my lunch alone. It was a difficult, lonely time. As I matured and grew older, I learned better social skills and began developing close friendships. Today my friends are a vital part of my life, and I love them so much! You know who you are!
I believe that Jesus’ ministry time here on earth exemplifies the types of relationships we can have with others:
- The crowds of people whom Jesus taught. This would be similar to your and my Facebook “friends,” who are really more acquaintances (or even strangers we don’t know), our social media “peeps,” audiences where we speak, readers of our books and our blogs, etc.
- Jesus’ disciples. These included men and women who followed Him more closely. These would be friends who we start to spend more fun time with, such as having over for dinner at our houses, doing a Bible study with at church or in our homes, etc.
- Jesus’ 12 disciples. Your friends who you begin to confide in, asking prayer requests from (I have a team of intercessors who pray for me and my family), hang out with for a bbq and a movie at your house, people who are aware of the more personal details of your lives, whom you can really trust. Jesus chose these 12 men after all night in prayer, so they would spend time with Him, to preach, and to cast out demons. They would later spread the gospel throughout the world. These would be like my friends Liz, Ruth, Gala, Susan, Jane, Stephanie, and Dana.
- The inner circle of 3, Peter, James, and John. They are always listed first in the Biblical record whenever the apostles are listed by name. Peter along with his brother Andrew, along with James and his brother John, were the first set of disciples called by Jesus to follow Him. These three were the only disciples to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37-42; Luke 8:50-55); Christ’s Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17:1-2); and Jesus travailing in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was crucified (Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36). Jeff Atchinson said, “the Perfect Leader, Jesus, showed us the importance of narrowing in on a smaller circle for the highest degree of intimate training.” These would be like your best friends, who you’d trust with your very life. You know they are loyal and they always have your back! These are usually people who, even if you go separate ways (such as moving), you can always pick right back up where you were the last time you saw each other, such as my friends Shelley Valasek and Kim Weber.
- John who lay on Jesus’ breast, hearing His heartbeat. This is your very best friend. For me, that would be my daughters and my sister Maria. These are the ones I laugh with and cry with. They really know me–and love me anyway! My sister and I talk about everything, and we understand each other so well (we both have the same kind of warped humor!).
Sometimes we meet people who are definitely not and will never be our friends. They simply rub us the wrong way, and/or vice versa.
The Bible says in Romans 12:18 NASB, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
I believe this passage indicates that sometimes it is not possible. I think this is often due to personality types. They (or you!) are bossy, manipulative, narcissistic, controlling, rude, hateful, arrogant, or have something about them that just irritates or angers you. Sometimes people rub you the wrong way and/or vice versa. You know the type: people with an attitude who you feel like just slapping, but you control yourself!
I’ve experienced this in my own life, even recently. There was a woman at a part-time job where I worked for a season who, for whatever reason, seemed to not like me at all and would get easily angry at me. I tried my best to be nice to her, but she’d storm out of the office, offended over what seemed to be little, ridiculous things. Sad to say, we never got along. I no longer work there, and I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with her any more!
Not everyone is going to like you or get along with you, or you with them. We can try our best to walk in God’s agape, unconditional love and forgive, but you and that person may never become friends.
However, sometimes it IS possible. My children’s book is about that hope. I’m praying to launch it soon.
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I’m personally so thankful for the friends I do have. Like my salvation through Christ and my family, I consider them a precious gift from God.
Today is the beginning of a new month, March. I always feel like the first of a month is an opportunity for a fresh start-a reset button. Like if last month was really crummy, then here’s a toast to a much better one!
I remind myself that, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT) So thankful for that! God, You are good, faithful, and true! Full of grace and love. May I be so.
Today I painted my nails powder-blue, in anticipation of spring. (A nail model, I am not! Twenty-six years of washing dishes and doing housework has done its toll on my hands, and they show my age more than any other body part! Yet American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon Iris Apfel said it well: “I don’t see anything so wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage!”) I like the soft blue color.
Spring 2020 is officially on Thursday, March 19. Today as I walked outside, I saw and heard robins singing and doves cooing, excited about spring in the air. Spring is also like the Earth offering a brand new start-a chance at life again.
My schedule now is primarily driving our youngest daughter Leah to her doctor appointments–her fibula surgery follow-up visits, physical therapy, and other appointments and errands. I drive the 45 miles to her city, willingly, happy to do it. But on days that it rains and snows/ices, I grip the steering wheel, praying that the car’s tires won’t slide and I won’t wreck, especially if Leah is with me in the car–another reason I welcome spring and summer.
A fall on ice and snow in Leah’s driveway at her rental home is WHY our precious daughter broke the fibula in her ankle, requiring surgery and the thick, black ankle boot that she must wear 8-10 weeks post-surgery.
Although normally a snow bunny who loves the beautiful snow, I now hate ice for doing this to her. It is the enemy-one of many. Yet last week when she began 50% weight-bearing on her ankle at physical therapy, I was filled with joy! She’s on the way to walking again!
Before Leah’s accident near Christmas that caused her fibula to break, I did have my first children’s book in the works. The illustrator is still working on coloring the last four images for the pictures inside the book. Again, God has me waiting. It seems that I’m often in the waiting room.
The book is about my and Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax, learning to become friends when Leah was still living with us. While certainly not BFF’s, they did play with each other at times (and fight, as well!)–frenemies. The idea of the book is that we can develop friendships with others, who we may not like at first.
Ray and Leah encouraged me for years to write a children’s book. I kept giving excuses why I couldn’t–I’d never written one before! Ray pointed out that I’d never written other types of books, either. Yet now I’m the author of 19 books–16 non-fiction and 3 fiction adult books. You can check them out at my Amazon Author Page here.
So I decided that I would write a children’s book, after being inspired by our comical cats, whom we love so much. I hope to have this book launched in mid-March or late March 2020, so stay tuned. If you aren’t already subscribed on my website personal mailing list, sign up now at the top of the page on the right-hand side to be FIRST to hear when this eBook for Kindle goes live on Amazon!
As I anticipate the warmer weather, beautiful flowers, and watching birds and squirrels feed from our sunroom, I also wait eagerly for the miraculous healing of Leah’s fibula in her ankle. I have strong faith that God is going to completely heal her. She’ll soon be walking again and I will give Jesus Christ all the praise, honor, and glory.
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)