friends, friendship, foundation, prayer, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Friends: Strengthening Our Friendship Foundations through Christ

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ.



Have you ever considered the parable of the builder in Matthew 7:24-27 as an allegory on friendship? When you spend time with your friends, share your life with them, and depend on each other you are building on a strong rock foundation. However, if you don’t talk often or only share the good stuff, you’re building on sandy soil. I tend to have some shifting sand. I need to work on this.

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #friends #friendship #prayer #foundation

Friends in Sandy Soil

I love my friends. They are amazing. But sometimes I totally take them for granted. God has blessed me by putting a few wonderful people in my life and I am sure He doesn’t want me to neglect them.

As a mom, my life is always on the go, usually at 90 miles an hour. No matter how often I tell myself I need to slow down, or dream about an idyllic life of green fields, gurgling streams and slow relaxed days…it is highly unlikely to happen.

What does usually happen is I get so busy I neglect my friends for days, weeks, or months. It can be hard to find more than a few minutes to talk on the phone or send a text. Dropping by for a visit, meeting up for a cup of coffee, or taking a walk together can escape my weekly plans. For this, I feel extremely guilty.

God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Proverbs 22:11, MSG

Asking for Help

So what can I do? What should I do? First (and maybe one of the hardest things to do), give it over to God. Ask for guidance in strengthening my relationships in meaningful ways. Creating a firmer foundation is necessary. As a servant to my Father, I should be there for my friends when they are in need. And I should also be able to go to them when I am in need.

It has been a super hard week. My son and I have left for school early almost every day this week due to testing, end of the year meetings, and my need to have everything prepared before my students come through the door. That in and of itself isn’t unusual. But we have had an amazing VBS at church this week.

Our main church campus is about 5 miles from school. Rather than trek 30-45 minutes home and then back, we stayed at school. Three days I brought dinner from home and heated it up. Two days we went out to eat. While VBS was going on, I worked on end of year paperwork, finished up a class for my teacher license renewal, and graded papers.

Shoring Up the Foundation

I didn’t want to put anyone “out” so I didn’t ask for the help that I really needed. It turns out that when you try to be superwoman you can end up exhausted and crabby and overly emotional. My weekend was spent with me hiding from my family by binge watching tv shows, and praying for silence.

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshed the soul.

Proverbs 27:9, MSG

Here is the kicker…if someone had asked me for help I would have been there for them (well maybe not last week, but in general I wouldn’t think twice). I know I need to start working on building a better definition of friendship and allowing myself to be vulnerable…or I really don’t have any real friends.

Prayer for Strength

So what do I do? I work on my friendships? Prayer is always a great place to start:

Dear God,

Help! I am so lost and can’t seem to get up from this spot. You made us to live together but I have isolated myself out of pride. Thank you for providing me the time and opportunity to reflect. I feel uncomfortable and unsure of myself. I have tried for too long to ignore my place in friendships and I worry I have destroyed more than I have built. Please give me the vulnerability to ask my friends for help when I need it. Let me humble myself and lighten my burden so I can be a light to the world for You.

love,

me

Rock Solid Foundation

God desires us to build strong foundations in all our relations to glorify Him. He tells us this time again throughout the Bible. God, Himself, desires our friendship. Isn’t that incredible! I love my God and am so happy He reaches out to me and holds me tightly.

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14, MSG
God desires us to build strong foundations in all our relationships in order to glorify Him. Even God longs for our friendship. Click To Tweet

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #friends #friendship #prayer #foundation

unsplash-logoAnita Austvika
valued, worth, identity, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian Mentoring, Women of Faith, Spiritual Growth

Valued: Living Confidently Because We Know Our Worth

When we put our identity in relationships, we can question if we are valued. People are going to let us down. This post discusses where we find our worth.



It started simply enough. My friend shared some good news. Only she didn’t share it with me first. I heard about it from another friend… A friend had a physical need and I was there front and center. When I was facing my own storm, I did not hear from her for weeks and then she never mentioned what we both knew I was going through… A good friend canceled plans and didn’t try to reschedule.

Each time, I tried to convince myself that my friends’ actions were unintentional and that my friends were really not trying to hurt me. But I was hurt, and ignoring the way I was feeling was actually making it worse. I started distancing myself from these friends. What was going on?

My identity…

A lot actually. The biggest issue was in the area of identity. God used these situations to show me the depths of my heart. When the relationships in my life were going well, I had a tendency to think well of myself. But when I began to feel unnoticed or worse unwanted I began to see what my heart was really clinging to.

Who am I when no one notices me? Do I matter if my friends don’t care or show up? I had to admit that for me the answer was a hearty no. I was feeding off the attention of others.

Who am I when no one notices me? Do I matter if my friends don’t care or show up? I had to admit that for me the answer was a hearty no. I was feeding off the attention of others. Click To Tweet

My jealousy…

This wasn’t a new problem for me. I can remember in 2nd grade being friends with Kellie and Kathy. We were the 3 Ks. I can still remember the day I found out that Kathy had been invited to Kellie’s house to spend the night and I had not been included. I was devastated. How could they leave me out? I knew I could not let them know how much it mattered to me. But, man it mattered. This led to making assumptions about how they felt about me. I never asked them then how they felt… I just made it up… Therefore, I must not matter.

This kind of thinking followed me through high school, college, and even marriage and parenting. My heart had begun to rely on the subtle lie that my worth was based on how others perceived me and treated me. If I was wanted, valued or important, I was noticed, pursued even. That was a recipe for disaster. One that helped me see what I had been missing even as a believer. It’s a simple but profound truth.

My pursuer…

He pursued me.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, NIV

People were never intended to define me or to give me worth. That was God’s job. In my desire to be pursued, I had missed the biggest pursuer of all- Christ. I still have to work on this mindset. My heart still yearns to be noticed and validated, but I must allow God to validate me. That takes a lot of practice and a lot of “taking thoughts captive.”

When we put our identity in relationships, we can question if we are valued. People are going to let us down. This post discusses where our worth is found. | Women of Faith | Scripture | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

My help…

I’ve seen a few things help:

I have had to admit that I have an addiction to relational idolatry. I depend on the relationships in my life to give me significance. This is so hard to fight. I have to confess and ask for forgiveness where my relationships are sin and where they have taken places in my heart that really belong only to God.

Because I am prone to think I only matter if I am pursued or valued by others, I have to speak the gospel over myself again and again. The gospel tells me that Jesus pursued me when I was hostile to him. My worth is based on His actions not mine.

I have to be quick to admit my wrong and ask forgiveness from those I have offended and I have to pray about situations in which I have been offended. This may lead to me going to that person or it may mean I can lay this hurt down with Jesus.

We can rest in the worth that Christ has given us. Our worth does not have to rely on the hope from friends, or anyone else in life.

I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker or heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1, NIV

When we put our identity in relationships, we can question if we are valued. People are going to let us down. This post discusses where our worth is found. | Women of Faith | Scripture | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

Jon Del Rivero

friendship, love, sacrifice, unique

Friendship: A Practice in Sacrificial Love

Worldly standards on friendship can hinder our ability to be a Godly friend. In our quest to become the “truest” friend, we often stretch our personal boundaries and limits to the point of breaking. The Bible offers a multitude of advice on friendship and why sacrificial love is key.



I have the worst habit of telling new, potential friends that I am a “bad” friend. I began believing this idea when I started comparing what my friendships looked like with other friendships.

Surely a good friend should be able to drop anything at a moment’s notice. Isn’t a true friend able to carry the other through any darkness with strength and perseverance? Aren’t you “supposed to” go shopping, do lunch dates, talk on the phone?

I figured, since I wasn’t able to follow through on these standards 100% of the time, it meant I was not a “good” friend.

Well, that’s a load of junk.

Friendship: The Honest Truth

In my experience, stereotypical norms discourage Godly friendships from thriving. The world standards of “girl-friends” doesn’t always align with my personality type. I am not one for getting excited about shopping dates. I sometimes cringe at the thought of play dates. Socializing leaves me feeling exhausted. Typically, I get heavy after long conversations. Not by the subject matter, but by over analyzing my words and interactions.

Most people cannot commit to answering the phone WHENEVER the call comes; work, sleep,  and alone time are extremely important. Many of us can say that we will not ALWAYS make that coffee date; life happens and money is sometimes tight. We cannot ALWAYS keep it together while the other is going through a valley; pretending to have it all together is tiring, and quite frankly, insincere.

So, are these the reasons friendships go awry? Does lack of perfection cause us to feel guilt and give up?

Worldly standards can hinder our ability to be a Godly friend. The Bible offers a multitude of advice on friendship and why sacrificial love is key.

Friendship: Where We Go Wrong

When thinking back on fizzled out friendships, I was surprised to find they were completely within my control. Instead of enriching relationships inside my own God-given strengths, I shook them off. I compared and belittled what I brought to the table.

Having a successful relationship, doesn’t usually fit into obvious standards. Feeding into the lie that we have to be like all the other friendships, is where we go wrong. God created us to be exactly who we are: unique. Thus, our friendships will be unique.

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17, MSG

God ordains friendships knowing that each person has what the other needs. When we try to operate outside of this knowledge, we mess it all up. When we refuse to allow God’s love to fill in the empty spaces, our friendships die.

Worldly standards can hinder our ability to be a Godly friend. The Bible offers a multitude of advice on friendship and why sacrificial love is key.

Friendship: What the Bible Says

The Bible emphasizes love as the greatest way to be a friend. When we come together IN love, TO love, we are committing our hearts to serving the Lord.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:8-9, NIV

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Romans 12:10-12, NIV

Jesus spoke the most significant advice on friendship…

This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.

John 15:13-14, MSG

Friendship: The Promise

Jesus’ sacrifice gives us the greatest example of how to truly be a friend. Laying down our lives doesn’t necessarily mean our hearts stop. Sacrificing our lives looks like prayer. It looks like following through, being trustworthy, showing respect. Sacrificing ourselves resembles grace in the midst of pain; love in spite of selfishness. Love looks like 1 Corinthians 13.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be in a state of progress. I will never, ever be a “perfect” friend because I am not Jesus. Understanding and accepting these truths, has made me realize, I’m not a “bad” friend just because I’m not a “perfect” friend. I may not commit to every coffee date, phone call, or outing. But, I can promise, from the depths of my being, that I will love fiercely.

If we can become comfortable with who we are and what we have to offer, I believe we would see less broken relationships/friendships. Striving to love in friendship, honors God more than striving to do and be all the things.


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Pretending to have it all together is tiring, and quite frankly, insincere. Click To Tweet

Worldly standards can hinder our ability to be a Godly friend. The Bible offers a multitude of advice on friendship and why sacrificial love is key.

Don Ross III

Support: The 6 People You Absolutely Need in Your Life

We all need to be surrounded by people to challenge us to be our better self. These are six examples of people who will support and help you be who you were created to be.



This past week I decided to do a whirlwind trip back to Greenville, South Carolina. I needed to pick up new items that will be appearing soon in the shop, and I was feeling a bit homesick for the town and the people. So on Monday morning I sent my oldest son off to school (we have year round school here), packed up my younger two, and hit the road. One potty stop, and four hours later we arrived and accomplished the first goal of the trip, picking up the items. After that was accomplished, it was on to hug some necks. And boy, did I ever hug! Good, soul-filling hugs.

I got to hug the neck of a sweet lady who is experiencing deep grief at the moment. Then I got to hug and drink coffee with a friend while we watch our kiddos run and play. After being revitalized there, I pulled myself away to have dinner and stay the night with the most giving and gracious woman I have ever known. My whole time knowing her, she has inspired me to be kinder and more generous, and she gives great hugs too! The next morning I went back to my old cycle class at the YMCA. So many people I love in one place at one time. I got to hug the precious lady who is in charge of the child watch. I love that woman, she has touched more lives than she will ever know. I got to hug so many friends while I was there. So many sweaty hugs were to be had! But I still wasn’t done… I then met up with a friend for brunch who continually impresses me with all that she juggles, and all that she accomplishes. I didn’t want to leave, I could have sat with her all afternoon, but alas, my 2 year old was beginning to melt down, and I needed to hit the road so I could be home before my son got off the bus that afternoon.

My heart was so full after that 24 hours. I was able to see so many people that have encouraged me, helped me, and challenged me over the last few years. There were so many more who I wished I could have seen, but there was only so much I could do in the little time I had. Many of these women were the inspiration for a blog post I had written a couple years ago, so I wanted to share it again.



If you are ever struggling with your day, or week, or even year, these people will be there to keep you going, or in some cases, keep you still. They love you and want what is best for you and your family. These are…

The 6 People You Absolutely Need in Your Life

The Dreamer: This is the person that is always coming up with ideas. Every time you see them they have a new adventure planned and one for you as well.

!!!!Warning, don’t be tempted to lose focus and get off the path you are on.

The Motivator: This is the person that once you have an idea, they tell you should go for it. They think you are the best at whatever it is that you are doing, or at least make you feel that you are.

!!!!Warning, don’t let this prompt you to act before you are ready.

The Brainstormer: This is the person that will keep you going once you have an idea or plan by keeping your mind focused on what you can do to keep improving.

!!!!Warning, planning is a good thing, but be sure to take action after you have done your planning.

The Realist: This is the person that will keep you in check and not allow you to run too far ahead.

!!!!Warning, this can feel like discouragement, but that is not the intent.

The Questioner: This is the person that will ask challenging questions to make you think through all the steps. The questions are not to discourage or encourage. Just to make you think through every possible angle.

!!!!Warning, nothing will ever have all the kinks worked out, don’t let this immobilize you.

The Encourager: This is the person that will shower you with compliments and make you feel like you are changing the world. And they will do this just about the time you want to give up.

!!!!Warning, this person loves you and what you do, don’t let it cause you to think higher of yourself than you should.

Some of the people in your life will have more than one of these traits. Or you may have multiples of one kind of people in your life. Life is too complicated and busy to spend time on discouraging thoughts. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and challenge you!

Life is too complicated and busy to spend time on discouraging thoughts. Click To Tweet

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and challenge you! Click To Tweet

 



I love those people back in South Carolina, and am thankful to be finding more of those people here in North Carolina. I could not have pulled this trip off without the help of friends and neighbors. I am truly blessed!

So what about you? Who do you have in your life that encourages you to be who you were created to be?

 

 

Ian Schneider

6 People We All Need In Our Cheering Squad

Life can be fun and exciting and full of energy. Or it can be a drag. Whether we are in the rush or the slush, we all need to be surrounded by people to challenge us to be our better self.

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I have been blessed to have a great “cheering squad” in my life. If I’m struggling with my day, or week, or even year, these people have been there to keep me going, or in some cases, keep me still. I know they love me and want what is best for me and my family. Without them, I would not be where I am today. With them, I know tomorrow will be conquered.

 


6 People to Have in Your Cheering Squad

The Dreamer: This is the person that is always coming up with ideas. Every time you see them they have a new adventure planned and one for you as well.

!!!!Warning, don’t be tempted to lose focus and get off the path you are on.

The Motivator: This is the person that once you have an idea, they tell you should go for it. They think you are the best at whatever it is that you are doing, or at least make you feel that you are.

!!!!Warning, don’t let this prompt you to act before you are ready.

The Brainstormer: This is the person that will keep you going once you have an idea or plan by keeping your mind focused on what you can do to keep improving.

!!!!Warning, planning is a good thing, but be sure to take action after you have done your planning.

The Realist: This is the person that will keep you in check and not allow you to run too far ahead.

!!!!Warning, this can feel like discouragement, but that is not the intent.

The Questioner: This is the person that will ask challenging questions to make you think through all the steps. The questions are not to discourage or encourage. Just to make you think through every possible angle.

!!!!Warning, nothing will ever have all the kinks worked out, don’t let this immobilize you.

The Encourager: This is the person that will shower you with compliments and make you feel like you are changing the world. And they will do this just about the time you want to give up.

!!!!Warning, this person loves you and what you do, don’t let it cause you to think higher of yourself than you should.


Final Thought

Some of your “cheerers” will have more than one of these traits. Or you may have more than one kind of “cheerer” (I know I have multiple encouragers in my squad). Life is too complicated and busy to spend time on discouraging thoughts. Surround yourself with people that will love you and challenge you!

 

xoxo