Sunday, October 28, 2012

Friends?


Many times lately, I have been reminded by the most trivial events just how rare yet important it is to have real friends. We often call people “a friend” when a more correct term would be “acquaintance”. Perhaps the word friend is used too loosely in our social media society. I hear it tossed around way too much and to some that seems petty to point out but when you are fortunate enough to have one or more true friends, you likely understand how essential it is to save the title for those deserving of it! So, what is the meaning of the word that we so carelessly toss around?

Per Merriam-Webster, a “friend” can have several meanings. In fact, if you read the definition, it does make the word less significant to those who are most important to us. Here are the top 2 meanings:

1. a : one attached to another by affection or esteem

    b : acquaintance

2  a : one that is not hostile

    b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group

Really? “One that is not hostile”?!? As long as we are not hostile, we are friends? Since I can’t argue with a dictionary, I thought I’d try and find another word that might be more appropriate than friend to describe a few special people in my life. I had no luck. Maybe you can suggest something! Since I failed, I decided that instead, I should use words to describe my opinion of a friend. Those words would include honest, loving, compassionate, caring, thoughtful, dependable and trustworthy. The last three are most important to me. Since God says Love is most important to him, you would think it might be to me. Nope. I guess I figured that if a person really is thoughtful, dependable and trustworthy to me, they would have to love me and I would have to love them. Perhaps that’s naïve but it’s still my belief.

Now, after all that insight, here’s where I was going. If you are lucky enough to have one or more true friends in your life as I do, know it! Although I’ve often heard that a real friend will be there when you need them the most, I didn’t completely get that until I realized that despite popular belief, its actually not the big events of life that trigger the most need. It’s during those quiet yet tough times when most people around wouldn’t see. That’s when true friends reveal themselves. It’s in those moments that a true friend goes beyond what is expected and notices when you are having a tough time. Here is what I have learned and what I am striving to remember: Do not take advantage of a friend. Make effort to be present and available in their lives when they need you. A true friend will return the favor when the roles are reversed. Most important, don’t take them for granted. Show your appreciation for their existence in your life. God placed certain people in our lives and we should be thankful that he cared enough to do so!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Can Only Imagine

Over the past few weeks, I have wanted to write but after recently losing a friend, my mind would always succumb to sad thoughts and depressing topics that I did not want to share.


This morning as I was pulling out of my driveway to take the kids to school, we were noticing how beautiful the sunrise was. We often have picture worthy sunrises here on the coast of NC but today’s was especially gorgeous. We decided to drive the 2 miles out of our way to the water so we could see it more clearly. After all, God had really outdone himself today and it wouldn’t be right of us to not fully enjoy his masterpiece! There were stunning shades of pink, lavender and orange outlining particularly bright white clouds. The sun’s rays were unmistakable shining through the tops of the trees as it peaked over the horizon. It was simply remarkable to see.

On the drive to school, I thought about my friend and the song that was played at his funeral, “I Can Only Imagine”. My children and I began talking about how awesome it must be for him to be seeing that sunrise from another viewpoint. We talked about how he must be so happy to be able to spend mornings with his mom and other family members or friends that went on before him. As they moved on to another topic, I continued to think in silence. As we rode, another song came on the radio and its words really made me think. “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin. Before his death, my friend had endured much physical and emotional suffering, bound by his illness. He had shared with me his feelings regarding his sickness and also death. He was tired and so was his body. Chis sings “My chains are gone. I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, Amazing grace.”

What an amazing thought! He is truly free from all pain is now experiencing a joy like none of us can even begin to imagine. Through tears, I smiled.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Presentation is Everything... right?


If you attend an open house, you expect that house to be in pristine condition. The yard should be landscaped and the outside of the house clean. Walking in, expectations are high. The air should smell fresh, the floors be sparkling and all surfaces free of dust. This is what it takes to make a great first impression. After all, if you entered a home that was unkempt and dirty, you might quickly turn away and not stay to look for the beauty underneath all that dust and dirt. Yes, a first impression really is important in most situations. Perhaps it is that important in all situations.

While we are taught that appearance does not matter and that we should not “judge a book by its cover”, we quickly learn that the real world does not always operate by the same rules it teaches. People do judge others by appearance. So what does that mean? Should we worry about what the general public thinks of us based on our appearance or should we abide by the principle we teach our children to not concern ourselves with others’ opinions of us? Personally, I believe it should be looked at from the perspective of a larger picture.

Your appearance should in fact, be based on what you would like others to see. If the entire world is made up of humans, then why would we expect people to act as more than that? For example, humans naturally get an impression or form a temporary opinion about something based on what they see first. So the point is this. If you deal with people and we are referring to people’s opinions, then why do we expect that people we encounter will be anything other than human? Now here’s where I was going with this post. If you want the world to take you seriously in whatever role it is that you are portraying, whether it be in your workplace, church, or other arena, keep in mind the impression you would like for people to receive. In order for them to receive that impression, you have to make sure that’s what is presented! Therefore, presentation is everything…. or at least it is the introduction of everything that will follow.

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Open Mind

My big question lately or dilemma rather, has been how do I keep an open mind without compromising my own beliefs?  Although my answer to this is not exactly concrete or something that others may agree with, I have found my own peace of mind in regards to this proposed dilemma. Until about 4 or 5 years ago, I would have considered myself to be open minded but looking back now, I'm not so sure that I was. Or perhaps I was but never needed to actually apply the concept into my life or my situations at that time. Or maybe I wasn't at all and was so narrowminded that I didn't even realize I was, which leads me now to doubt that I am again..... anyway, back to my original thought and point!

As I was implying when I began writing, I am now more open minded but sometimes wonder if I ever cross the line to compromising my own beliefs. For the sake of clarity, let's just apply this concept to my Christianity for now. I am a Christian and although I fall short daily, I truly begin each day with the plan to be the best I can be and live out God's will for that day. In doing so, I am instructed to live as Jesus would, demonstrating his love and forgiveness to others, while also standing up for what is right in the eyes of God. I often find myself in situations in which the will of God is not clear in that moment. Perhaps that is reflective of my lacking a close connection with Him. Still, it is difficult to know how to proceed in those trying situations. Do I stand up for Him and risk offending (which I know is usually the right answer) or should I simply show His love and acceptance of even sinners? In my growth as a Christian and as a maturing human being, I've realized that there is a tactful way to do both. First, always approach people with love and the best of intentions, taking into account the WWJD principle; What would Jesus do? Second, be careful not to pass your own jugement but instead, the written Word of God, directly quoted so as not to add opinion. Be sure in doing so that you are not taking that quote out of context also! This can lead into a whole new discussion which I will save for another time. Last, let people know that God (and you) loves them no matter what, even when we are sinners. Most helpful to me has been to remain open minded and think outside of my own tiny world and mind before saying anything at all. Simply because someone is living in a way that I wouldn't doesn't in itself make them any less right than me. So long as it is not violating God's commandments and instruction, then who am I to take issue with it? There is only one who is capable of judging us. None of us can live "right enough" to find our way into His Kingdom!

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2: 8-9

Tuesday, March 6, 2012