friendship

Category Archives: friendship

Connecting to the Larger Narrative

This past week, I took some time off work to celebrate alongside one of my friends as he made a public proclamation of God’s faithfulness to sinners. More to the point, perhaps, this brother of mine had recently hit the 10-year mark in his recovery from alcohol and, as Providence would have it, he was

Better Stories for Helping Your Kids Get Along

07 Charles reading the spider book to JackHow do you help your kids get along with each other? That may feel like an overwhelming question. Bickering between brothers and sisters can feel like one of the hardest, most relentless parts of parenting. But it’s not just the fighting. It’s also the more subtle selfishness where each kid looks out only for themselves. It starts early on: you sit down to feed your newborn, and her two-year old sibling immediately begs to sit on your lap at that precise time, even though to that point he was happily playing on his own.

How do we encourage our kids to be selfless toward each other? Generous with each other? To want what’s best for their siblings? Simply put, how do we encourage our kids to be friends?

A letter of encouragement to the girl going through rush

Dear Emily,*

I am so excited for you to be heading off to college in the next few days. It is such an amazing and significant time in your life. And there’s no doubt that choosing to go through rush adds to the excitement.

Twenty years ago this August I left the only house I had every known and moved to Columbia to start my college career and think about joining a different kind of house. I debated the pros and cons of joining a sorority and going through rush, and the scales tipped (for me) slightly in favor of rushing. When I look back now on the whole experience, I have a range of emotions. I just thought I would share with you a few of those emotions, with the benefit of being 20 years past them rather than in the emotional-ness of the moment. (I am fairly sure most of these thoughts wouldn’t have at all been on my radar twenty years ago!)

3 Ways to Screw Up a Conversation

We’ve probably been on both sides of the conversation. Perhaps we’ve been the one who’s taken the risky step of opening up with a vulnerable topic, only to have someone squelch our spirits with a quick or trite response. Or maybe we’ve actually been the one to offer the nonchalant, unhelpful response. And after the response was out of your mouth you wish you could grab it back. Or even worse, maybe it flew out of your mouth and you weren’t even aware. I know I’ve been in all of these positions.

The Bible makes it really clear that our compassion towards people matters. The apostle Paul, for example, thanks the Philippians for their compassion toward him, through their financial gifts and in their sending Epaphroditus to visit him, to spend time with him and talk. That compassion cheered Paul up and helped him endure imprisonment.

There are lots of ways we show compassion, and our words are part of that. So we should take the weight of words seriously. Proverbs 13:3 tells us, “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” If we want to show compassion, then it makes it sense that we reflect on what we might be tempted to say to people, and how those words could prove unhelpful, or even hurtful.

Let’s look at some phrases that probably all of us have said at some point and see how they could be unhelpful and then offer a potential more helpful response. For purposes of modeling how these phrases could look, I am going to use the scenario of someone sharing with you that they just had a miscarriage.

A threat to a good summer

Ah, summer. What good memories I have. The Price is Right at 10 am, lying on the couch, imagining what it would feel like to get to spin the big wheel, make it to Showcase Showdown, and meet Bob Barker. After some lazy television time, I might wander outside for a bit, and then lunch might be a frozen pizza or bologna sandwich. The afternoon would usually involve fun bike rides up and down the street with my brothers and friends.

We made so many brilliant memories and had a great time. What we didn’t have was Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. While we lied on the couch watching television, my mom didn’t check Facebook and see that everyone else had their kids enrolled in an all-day creativity camp or were taking some great trip to the zoo. When we ate our bologna sandwiches and cheese puffs, my mom didn’t have pictures on Instagram of her kids’ friends eating celery sticks, carrots, and cherry tomatoes alongside a nice turkey and lettuce wrap – on a whole wheat tortilla. What has happened to our nice enjoyable relaxing summer?

Darn Facebook. You are ruining my summer life. YOU are the problem.

Or are you?

What do you do when you stick your foot in your mouth?

Recently I was chatting with a friend. This friend has two children by adoption, which she’s very open about. We were talking about parenting decisions, and I referred to another friend, saying, “She’s great. She has six kids. Four of her own and two adopted.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I was reeling inside. “What did I just say?” I asked myself. “I just insinuated that to be a real mother is to have carried a kid in utero for nine months.” I don’t think this, but I DID just say it. Now what?

4 Tips for Giving Great Advice

First a disclaimer, I only feel prepared to write this blog post because I have been the recipient of good advice – not because I am good at giving it. Here is a recent text exchange between me (the needy one) and a friend in London.*

 ME: Please pray for me today. Charles has a paper submission that is long overdue and is affecting everything. It feels like a mini PhD all over again. Struggling to find grace to show when I just want it done and am annoyed that is taking so long. Can you please pray? Rebuke me too if needed. E xxxxxx

FRIEND: Praying for you now. Been there. Am with you in the hardness of it and sending you a big hug. One word come to mind (only because I know how forgetful I am in moments like these!!): REMEMBER. Remember who God is. He is merciful so you don’t have to be resentful. He is wise so you don’t have to worry. He is strong so you don’t have to be self-sufficient. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love so you don’t have to hold a grudge. He cares for you so you don’t have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders. He is your joy so don’t lose strength for today. Remember He is God and we are not. Praying for Charles too, that he “gitterdun” real soon! Love you friend! Xx

FRIEND: How’s your day? Your heart? Was just thinking (and didn’t say earlier) that I was grateful you asked for prayer and made me realise my own need to do so more . . . ask for prayer!! Thanks for being humble. Always ask. And I’ll be better at doing the same because I need them too! Hugs to all. Cx

ME: You are such a great friend. I needed all those reminders today. No change in status but by God’s grace and the help of a good friend ;), my attitude is better. Very grateful. E xxxxx

Here is why this advice was godly and good advice:

Sticks and Stones, and Serious Words

cupcakes

In grade school a boy told me that my legs looked like the Amazon forest, referring to the never-been-shaved hair on them. I was in fifth grade
and mortified.

A good friend tells the story of a boy chasing her after school, throwing rocks, and yelling, “Run, Fat-so, run!” It isn’t the rocks she remembers as much as the words. A broken bone would have healed more quickly than the damage of those words.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” – Really? My experiences don’t lend truth to this phrase, and I don’t think I am alone.

A last minute Christmas gift (and it’s not too late)

A few years ago on Christmas morning, after all the gifts were opened, with wrapping paper strewn all across the living room, my husband pulled out an envelope. I hadn’t seen this gift sitting around, but the look on my husband’s face showed that I should be excited. Anticipating what could be inside, I opened the envelope and found twelve homemade coupons/certificates with my name on them for a lunch date with a girlfriend of my choosing. On his own, he had taken a personal spin on our family coupons, which up to this point had been focused on our kids. With loads of respect for my husband, I have to admit, I couldn’t believe he had thought of this on his own!

I needed to set the date a month in advance and he would either come home and be with our kids, or if his schedule didn’t allow that, he would arrange a babysitter. The key is that HE would arrange the sitter for me. All I had to do was select a friend, a date, and the location. He would take care of the rest of the logistics of leaving four kids at home. And on a few occasions, he even volunteered to watch the friend’s kids too, so that she wouldn’t have to pay a sitter. The best was the time we left him with eight kids. We just drove away and laughed the whole way up the street!

What makes this gift the best?

The Wounds of a Friend

There is nothing at all soothing about the striking of one piece of iron against another. First of all, there’s usually an annoyingly-loud clang to contend with, plus an unpleasant jolt to the arm muscles should one happen to be holding either of the two pieces. And then there’s the time-consuming and painstaking process of