Browsing Tag

friendship

Blog, Ebooks, Family, Friendship, Writing

True friends

Me and my BFF Maria

Me and my BFF Maria

‚ÄúThe most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.‚ÄĚ‚Äď 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. 

Jax and Natalya

Jax and Natalya

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!

woman shooting bird

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. 

Woman in jacket. Source: Unsplash

Woman in jacket
Source: Unsplash

However, sometimes it IS possible. My children’s book is about that hope. I’m praying to launch it soon.

If you aren’t already signed up on my website’s mailing list, be sure to sign up with your name and email address on the welcome page at the bottom of the page. You’ll also get my free video training for speakers and writers about sharing your heart’s message, when you do. 

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. 

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

 

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Blog, Business, Faith, Homeschooling, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Speaking, Spiritual Gifts, Travel, Writing

Tired of and bored with Facebook (and other social media sites)?

 Image courtesy of Basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you sick and tired of Facebook? Burned out and bored with social media? Today I was talking with speaker/author Dana Arcuri about this. I shared with her that while I’ve met some AMAZING friends and business associates on social media, and am able to keep up with our grown daughters, their children, and family and friends who live in other states on Facebook (for which I’m extremely thankful),¬†I’m tired and bored with social media. And I don’t want to just live a virtual life!

Apparently I’m not alone, because others want to leave Facebook. It’s crowded, it’s becoming more about advertising, and teens don’t want to use it any more because their family and friends are now on it (teens want to be independent!). And worse: it’s getting boring!¬†So often users forget the cardinal rule of relationships: “Thou shalt not bore thy friends.”

Facebook can ruin relationships, according to this post¬†by Elizabeth Bernstein. She writes that people post about what they eat, “uber cute kittens,” say they need to floss their teeth (yuck!), get lovey-dovey with a spouse (why do this?), or say rude things they wouldn’t normally say in a million years in real life (apparently they feel safe enough to act this way, hiding behind their laptop or computer).

The drama, the bragging, the boringness, the familiarity, and the constant promotional “Buy this!”are driving people away – especially young people¬†– to other sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Path, and Snapchat. Teens want more creative self-expression rather than telling all the mundane details of your life.¬†

Dana shared this article with me today, which was very eye-opening. 

Referring to Facebook as “FaceCrack,” likening it to crack cocaine, the article states that Facebook (and other social media sites like Twitter):

  • create brain changes similar to¬†those hooked on drugs and alcohol;
  • diminish attention span, result in¬†superficial learning, feed narcisstic tendencies (selfies!), and create a disconnect between your real-world personality and online identity;¬†
  • leaves people feeling lonely, miserable, envious, frustrated, and angry.

God made us for an intimate, fulfilling relationship with Him and others. He never created us to live just virtual lives, but to have real ones.

I’m extremely grateful for the wonderful friends and business contacts I’ve made on Facebook and other social media sites. They have enlarged my territory and given me a wider, even a global, platform for speaking and writing. Yes, absolutely, I will continue using social media to connect with friends and business peers. Social media is not just a fad, and it’s not going away.

But I absolutely refuse to be a social media slave.

I love the options the article How Facebook is Altering Your Mind suggest, and want to share them here, plus add a few of my own:

  • Read good books. Yes, paper ones.¬† Read my books. “You will notice with a good book you find a comfortable place to sit, the light is better, your breathing relaxes ‚Äď your body and mind relax.” Books take you places you have never been. They also help you learn many new things, inspire and motivate you, and give you great, valuable content to share with others. My husband Ray and I devour books each week.¬†
  • Exercise. Get outside the house in the fresh air and sunshine.¬†I’ve been doing this lately, and on the days where it’s too cold to walk at the track (like this past week, when it was only 7 degrees!), I work out to a kickboxing video. Just get moving! Live! Get fit and healthy so you can fulfill your God-given purpose. This is good for your body, soul, and spirit.¬†
  • Contemplate. Gift yourself the time to¬†observe and reflect. Meditation is excellent mind training. Most major world religions teach this. For Christians, this would be time to meditate on the Bible, memorize Scriptures, and prayer. You can sit in a park, people-watch at the airport or coffee shop, enjoy the quiet of a library, or hike a mountain.
  • Do things in your community. Get involved. Church activities, sports, plays, farmer’s markets. “Get out and DO. You are wasting time on Facebook. If that last sentence rings true, turn it off and¬†get out there. Life is beautiful.”
  • Take a missions trip. My friend Kim Weber and her son Nathaniel are planning a short-term missions trip to Haiti this fall. We have a mission field right here in the U.S. ~ our children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces; inner cities; slums. Make a difference where you are or go to a place where there’s a need and unselfishly help meet it.
  • Spend time with your family and friends. What good is it to have wonderful relationships online with friends, if you are ignoring the people in your own house or those God so carefully placed in your life? Let’s face it, if someone only spends time on a computer, laptop, or smart phone,¬†they get weird.¬†You were created for face to face relationships. Eat supper with your family at night. Go to lunch or coffee with a friend or biz peer. Go on a date with your husband or wife to see a good movie, or to a bookstore. Meet with other Christians for a Bible study, prayer, and/or worship. Have a girls’ night out with a jewelry party, chocolate cheesecake dessert, or fun pedicures. Enjoy and love your family and friends in real life!
  • Use your spiritual gifts, talents, and skills. Do what God has called and anointed you to do.¬†For me, this is speaking and writing books. What are your spiritual gifts? Do you know? If not, find out what they are. You can take online tests. Read Spiritual Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit by Lester Sumrall and Step Out and Take Your Place by Krista Dunk. Don’t be like the man who hid his talents in Matthew 25:8, but use your talents ~ and God will bless you with more. Live your life in a way to seek to please God.

¬†Please don’t misunderstand and think I hate Facebook or other social media sites and am telling you to get off them completely (or at all). Social media has been a blessing in my life and enriched my life through meeting new people and enabling me to do things (like speak in Canada, the Bahamas, and Africa) that I may have never been able to do, otherwise.

Social media is a TOOL. Use it as such. Keep things in balance. Just remember to live your REAL life Рoffline!

 

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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts

Today is Leah’s 20th birthday

Leah with violin

Leah with violin

Today is our youngest daughter Leah’s 20th birthday. So hard to believe ~ where did the years go? It seems like yesterday she was a baby in a pink gown. You can read the story about the pink gown here.

Today I baked her a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I found this arrow in the art section of the store, and bought it as her cake topper decoration.

arrow for direction this year for Leah

arrow for direction this year for Leah

Since Leah isn’t sure yet what she wants to do with her life, Ray and I have been praying for God’s wisdom and direction for Leah since she graduated in 2012.¬† I believe the arrow is prophetic and symbolic of God giving her direction this year, and of her choosing to go the right way, to follow Jesus.

It’s also cute and can be used as wall art for her bedroom. The arrow is actually a chalkboard – how creative!

The arrow chalkboard reminded me of Leah’s creativity. She is multi-gifted. Leah takes violin lessons and plays the violin beautifully: classical music like Bach, hymns, Irish jigs, and she’s even written a couple of her own songs on the violin. She is teaching herself how to play the mandolin and the guitar.

She is also an amazing, self-taught artist.

She draws by hand and draws daily on the graphic art tablet Ray bought her several years ago. Here’s one sample of her incredible graphic art:

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Copyright 2014 Leah Jones

Here’s another sample which is my favorite.

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

Copyright 2012 Leah Jones

She was embarrassed when we sang happy birthday for her. We always light the candles and have our kids make a wish and blow out the candles on their birthday cake.

Leah was embarrassed when we sang to her

Leah was embarrassed when we sang to her

Ray also bought her and him an ice cream waffle cone today.

Ice cream waffle cone

Ice cream waffle cone

One of her birthday gifts is the Sims 4 video game, which she requested for her present.

Sims 4 video game

Sims 4 video game

Another gift that Ray and I gave her today is a cubic zirconia sterling silver heart necklace. She liked it and said it is pretty. Leah likes “shiny” things.

Leah's sterling silver heart necklace

Leah’s sterling silver heart necklace

 Here is a picture of Leah with me, Ray and Heather last year.

Me, Leah, Ray & Heather

Me, Leah, Ray & Heather

¬†Here’s a picture of me and Leah together at my Cinderella women’s conference this year.

Me with Leah

Me with Leah

¬†Here’s Leah with her sister¬†Heather at Leah’s homeschool graduation.

Leah's graduation - her sister Heather and Leah

Leah’s graduation – her sister Heather and Leah

Here’s Leah with her sister Eden.

Leah at her graduation with her sister Eden

Leah at her graduation with her sister Eden

Here are Heather, Eden, and Leah together.

Heather, Eden, and Leah

Heather, Eden, and Leah

Leah is a beautiful, spiritually gifted, musically and artistically gifted, talented, highly intelligent, loving, balanced, funny, young woman. Ray and I are proud of her.

Some people don’t understand Leah because she is so quiet. Ray and I used to be the same way; we were both incredibly shy, but grew out of it. I believe Leah will grow out of her shyness, too, one day. Some friends shared that they believe Leah is like a late-blooming flower. They bloom late in the season, but when they bloom, it’s like they spring up overnight.¬†

Leah is very shy and finds it hard to talk with people, and has just a few close friends, but she’s a wonderful person to get to know. If you’re not her friend, you are really missing out!

Here is Leah with her friends at the bowling alley.

Leah and friends

Leah and friends

And another pic with friends at the bowling alley. (Annabelle too)

Leah at bowling alley with friends

Leah at bowling alley with friends

These are her friends from small group on Sundays.

Leah & friends

Leah & friends

Leah and her friend David Christian at the bowling alley.

Leah & David Christian at bowling alley

Leah & David Christian at bowling alley

Here’s her friends from small group acting goofy.

Small group

Small group

She loves her friends.

She also loves her iPhone cell phone. She has a piano app on it that she plays all the time and her games. 

Leah loves her iPhone

Leah loves her iPhone

And she loves animals, especially cats.

Leah and cat

Leah and cat

Leah also loves¬†horses. She used to take riding lessons and competed in English horse riding shows. She won a blue ribbon first place prize in her 3rd show! This year she was able to ride on a horse again for the first time in years. I’m praying for us both to be able to ride again soon.

Our daughter Leah on Ace

Our daughter Leah on Ace

God has great plans for ¬†Leah’s life. I can’t wait to see them unfold.

“I will bless you with a future filled with hope‚ÄĒa future of success, not of suffering.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11, CEV

Leah, we love you so much. You are precious to God, others, and many other people.

Your life is a beautiful gift to me, and I’m so thankful for you. Happy 20th.¬†

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