A Tribute to Friends, Silver and Gold

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My “silver” friends. Love the bond we’ve formed already.

As a child I was shy and insecure. I didn’t make friends easily, as you have to look someone in the eye to befriend her. The friendships I did manage to form were the on-again, off-again type. (Can I just say girls can be mean? And I wasn’t always on the receiving end. I knew how to dish it out.) The difficulty in maintaining friendships was intensified by the fact that my family moved across country twice between my eighth grade year and my sophomore year in high school.

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High School Graduation

 

The moving didn’t cease. Since high school, I have lived in six different towns, moving, on average, every five years. Some would think this lifestyle makes it more difficult to make friends. While that was true of me growing up, as I’ve matured, it’s had the opposite effect. I am friendlier and more determined to find friends.

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My “gold” friends.

On my recent visit to IL, I re-connected with many of the friends I left last summer. I felt so blessed to be loved on by these precious ladies. On the flight home, I thought of the new friendships I’ve forged. I started reflecting on the groups of friends I’ve belonged to over the years–how attached I get, how difficult it is to leave. It reminded me of the Girl Scout saying:

Make new friends,

but keep the old.

One is silver,

the other is gold.

My attitude toward moving has changed. I used to be so emotionally devastated to leave the comforts of what I knew, I took a “don’t look back” approach, choosing not to stay in touch with those left behind. Additionally, my insecure-self knew I didn’t do friendships well, and I was sure I would be quickly forgotten. Now I seek new friends, overturning every rock, looking for them like the gems they are, not forsaking those established relationships. Now I cherish each friend I have – one is silver, the other is gold.

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More “gold” friends.

So here’s to friends!

They fill us up. They cheer us on. They teach us.

They encourage and admonish. They give us strength to face the day.

They laugh with us, and cry with us–on occasion at the same time.

They rejoice in our triumphs and mourn our losses.

They pray for us on a good day.

They pray for us when we have lost our hope and have no words.

They know our strengths and weaknesses, our strong points and flaws, our courage and our fears–and yet love us.

They hug us hello and hold our hand when we hurt.

Without friends, our marriages would suffer and our sanity would flee.

Friends are a gift from the Lord. Cultivate and nurture your friendships, old and new.

One is silver, the other is gold.

In the comments section, tell me what you love about your friends.

Lessons from Ann Voskamp

Lessons from Ann Voskamp

I couldn’t shake it. A pressing weight. A suffocating feeling. A sense of doom. I searched myself and found nothing. No recurring sin in need of repentance. No tragedy or trial. No unordinary change. Yet the tears flowed and the cloud hovered. I prayed. I debated antidepressants. I prayed some more.

After a few weeks, I made a phone call to an old friend. She listened and prayed. While we couldn’t pinpoint a cause, we chatted about solutions. She recommended a book entitled, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I can’t say enough about this book. The writing itself is beautiful. I felt as if I was engulfed in a sea of flowers and being led in a delicate dance, with God as my partner. She whisked me away to another world; only her elaborate descriptions were of ordinary, everyday things. A story about her boys splashing in a puddle moved me to tears. For that matter, the ornate statement of faith on her website caused me to fall to my knees. (read it here)

In the book, Voskamp describes her journey to record one thousand gifts God has given and continues to give her on a daily basis. She articulates how God changed her during the process. He transformed her thinking and outlook simply by helping her search for His gifts in the smallest details of life. “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?” (p.94)

So I took pen to paper. I opened a new leather-bound journal and stretched my writing skills to the limit. I began looking at the world around me with new lenses. My senses came alive as I purposefully sought after God’s precious gifts. I can’t say I reached one thousand (at least not in writing), but I can say something changed. Simply choosing to look for blessings helped dissipate that hovering cloud.

To read Ann Voskamp’s list you need to obtain her book (yes, do it!). But I will give you a glimpse into my journal.

  • Gift 1 – God’s Grace – without it there is no hope
  • Gift 7 – Colors – they make life more interesting and invoke various sensations
  • Gift 10 – Movement – it’s renewing and used for expression, it pulls me up into the world of the living
  • Gift 11 – Words – strung together on a page to draw me in and take me away
  • Gift 12 – Words – sung to a musical background to portray a message of hope, to bring a tear
  • Gift 13 – The Word – life breathed
  • Gift 14 – A Child’s Heart – broken for a lost world
  • Gift 19 – My sister who laughs – hard – at my ridiculous quips
  • Gift 23 – Prayer – an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life
  • Gift 26 – Five beautiful ladies + one gathered around a picnic table eager to feast at Your table – to learn from each other, laugh together and uplift each other’s souls

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  • Gift 27 – A non-judgmental arm draped across my shoulder as the tears flow
  • Gift 28 – Truth that takes hold, penetrates, heals.
  • Gift 63 – A disposition of thankfulness even as I feel ill, sick to my stomach, and out of sorts.

Although I now only record gifts periodically, I see the world differently, better. Even today I stopped to enjoy the bouquet of deep red and yellow tulips God left for me in front of the Lutheran church. Thank you, Lord.

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