Friday, September 17, 2010

Favorite Photo(s) Friday!

We had a sweet gathering on Tuesday night, a first for the women's ministry at our new church home: Ladies Dessert Night!

I have been so thankful for this church merger, not only for all of the potential my husband and I see, but because the Lord has continually used this as a means to remind me of the wonderful women in my life. Tuesday night was especially sweet as it was such a picture of Titus 2 - older women encouraging and teaching the young. We heard so many wonderful stories from these women who have been wives and mothers, and who have lived in this neighborhood their entire lives. One lady told us of being five years old when her family joined the church, that all of her children were married at Franklin, and that she now lives in the house her father built in the 1930s. Another woman told us of her nine children (one girl and eight boys!), and how she and her husband were compelled to take in a child from the neighborhood who had lost his family. So much history, so much to take in and from which we can learn so much! I pray that such fellowship continues to grow in the days and months and years to come!

Friday, September 10, 2010

~A Really Kindred Spirit~

"Anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms near enough to bestow a soft kiss on a pink-cupped bud, and then studied diligently for some moments longer.
'Marilla,' she demanded presently, 'do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?'
'A--a what kind of friend?'
'A bosom friend--an intimate friend, you know--a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it's possible?'"
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Today is my very best friend's 28th birthday, and I find that I am missing her terribly. We talked on the phone just two days ago during our normal time: she's commuting home from work, I am just pulling into a parking spot after my own long day, and we fill up the all of the time we're given right up until it's time to start cooking dinner. Even with the frequent phone calls, there are just certain days and weeks when I feel the distance more than others. We haven't actually seen each other face to face since January 5, 2008, but the hope is to remedy that in October when I hopefully visit her!
This past Sunday, mine and my husband's small group got together even though our leaders were out of town. Since this was a different gathering than normal, the couple who volunteered to lead decided to take a different slant on our time together. The exercise was for us to each tell the rest of the small group about ourselves, as if we were meeting each other for the first time. They asked us to tell everyone about sixty seconds. Well, you can guess that sixty seconds doesn't exactly allow for much time to delve into our life stories (especially for those who tend towards being long-winded...*ahem*, which ended up being part of their purpose in having us share. After everyone in the room had spoken, our friends then asked us to switch gears and in four minutes share the "what I didn't tell you" about ourselves. Wow. I don't know when I have heard our small group be so candid in this setting, and my husband and I found ourselves both encouraged and burdened by what we heard. We love our small group dearly, have grown to love them even more in recent months, but this was the first time I felt like I saw the "true self" behind the person. I have gotten to know a couple of women on a personal level as dear friends, but this was a definite first in the context of our small group gatherings.
One of the personal things I mentioned was the loneliness I have been dealing with recently. Between the good days of patience and trust, and those when I find myself "fighting for joy," I have at times paused and found myself feeling very alone. Not having anything to do with my husband (my best best best friend), I have moments when I long for a friend whom I can call at a moments' notice for coffee and conversation. After our small group finished sharing, we divided up the men and women to spend more time praying for one another. As I was praying with the wonderful women around me, my heart was filled with thankfulness. In that moment, the Lord showed me just how much He has blessed us with such an honest, intimate group of friends.
The dear friend who prayed for me during this closing time mentioned something that brought tears to my eyes. During her prayer over me, she asked the Lord to bless me with a "bosum friend, just like Anne and Diana were bosum friends, really kindred spirits." Upon mention of one of the most cherished novels in my book collection, I began thinking on the precious friendships the Lord has provided. I often refer to my best friend as "my kindred spirit," pulling the reference from our mutual affection for the Anne series. Such friends are rare, and I personally had the added blessing of her being part of the closeknit group of friends I have had since early adolescence. Because of how early on these bonds developed, I feel at times as if I have forgotten how to make such friends. But then...were any of these friendships formed out of my own doing, my own insistence at forcing a relationship that had not existed previously? When I look back on such friendships, and the ones that are developing in my life now, I can see such evidence that the Lord knits us together in more natural circumstances. He uses unanticipated events, random conversations, seemingly common interactions, and other means to cross our paths and knit us together.
Some friends have come and gone, some friendships have yet to be formed, but one thing I know; my best friend is irreplaceable. The miles have separated us for many years, but even distance cannot separate a friendship the Lord has so uniquely woven together.
Dear friend ~ I love you, I am thankful for you, I wish I could be there to celebrate with you. I am thrilled to witness the Lord's hand in your life as He continues to work in you, maturing you and drawing you closer in intimacy and dependence on Him. I know you're nervous and there is so much uncertainty ahead, but I have no doubt in my mind that you will be a wonderful mother. I know you will be wonderful because you know that your strength and ability only come by God's grace. I hope you have a sweet and memorable 28th birthday, and I love you "to infinity and beyond!"