Reflecting of Friendship-Part Two

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One of the most beautiful portraits of friendship in the Bible was that of David and Jonathon. First Samuel 18:1 tells us, “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”

As you read the account of their friendship in First Samuel, you see over and over that their focus is not on each other but the LORD.

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1Samel 23:16

This has been a struggle for me. I’ve wanted to stay focused of God, pointing all things in my friendships to Him, through Him, and for Him.  But, I must admit I’ve fallen short from time to time.

Don’t get the wrong idea here. I’m not saying every friendship we have must be with a sister in Christ. But, our friendships do need to have Christ at the core, even if it’s only our core.  Loving an unbelieving friend with His love, in His power and strength for His glory is what Christianity is all about.

A friendship built on a Biblical blueprint has a greater purpose than just companionship. It builds, encourages and corrects us as we journey through life.

The examples of friendship found in the Word are plentiful.

Abraham and Lot (Genesis 14)

Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1)

David and Jonathon (1Samuel 18)

Elijah and Elisha(2Kings2)

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel2)

Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (John 11)

Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila (Romans 16)

Paul and Timothy (Phil. 2)

Just to name a few.

Each on has a unique setting and unique conditions. They were built in different times and places.

All of them were centered on love.

Jesus, Himself, defined true friendship when He said in John 15:12-15, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

There have been, and will be days when it’s hard to love like that.

Through His power and strength all things are possible. I resolve to be a better friend this year.

What about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Please share in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Love,

DLF

Reflecting on Friendship

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My pudgy little fingers took the M&M from the palm of April’s hand. I popped It in my mouth, trying not to giggle as we “raced” to see who could melt away the candy coating and get to the chocolate first without biting into it.

Friendship came easy to those two giggling four-year-old girls.

We had no expectations thrust upon the time we spent together. Our moms arranged playdates and we played. Simple.

As I looked back over years of journal entries, I realized that I struggled in friendships as an adult. It was one of three topics that reoccurred frequently in my journal. The first being my struggles with food (we talked about last week) and the third was parenting (our topic next week).

Friendships can be complicated. Actually, at times, they can be downright messy. Riddled with unmet needs and expectations, tattered with hurt feelings and unspoken offenses, friendship can be like walking on ice in high heel shoes.

On the other hand, friendship can be sweet and easy. I’ve walked through raising my children with a friend who has children the same age as mine. Our common walk has bonded us in a unique way. With schedules full and families growing we developed an easy friendship that ebbs and tides with the flow of life.

For quite some time, I struggled in a friendship with a friend who didn’t communicate well. I felt a conflict had wedged itself between us, maybe even an offense. But, she never spoke about it. She just pushed me away.  As I read entries dating back more than a decade, I could see tear stains on the pages. The words written were begging God for some type of resolution.  It broke my heart to think that I may have hurt her without realizing it. I never knew what happened.

Finally, in one of my journal entries, I wrote these words, “I resolve to no longer struggle or concern myself with it (the friendship). I shall trust You, God, to bring her to call as You see fit. If not, I will know for whatever reason, this is what is best.”

I didn’t see any more journal entries on the subject again.

I found comfort in the Word as I struggled with feelings of failure in this friendship.

“They (Paul and Barnabas) had such a sharp disagreement that the parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cypress, but Paul chose Sylas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”   Acts 15:40 & 41

Even the great men of the Bible had some difficult relationship experiences.

We’ll talk more about friendship on Thursday.

See you then!

Love,

DLF

Reflecting on Deliverance- Part Two

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I’ve often wondered why people are so harsh in their reference to the Israelites in the story of the exodus and desert wanderings. Is it really hard to understand their grumblings (Exodus 16) when we consider the wondrous, miraculous things that God did to free them from the clutches of the Egyptians, only to plunk them in the heat of the desert with humble provisions for all those years?

I cherish their story. I can relate to their story. It is a constant reminder for me to not be focused on the deliverance but rather be focused on the Deliverer!

I’m sure the Israelites expected bigger and better things than a bare bone, nomadic desert existence. They had seen some amazing things (Exodus 4-11) and while they were focused on the miracles they missed the Miracle Worker.

My deliverance from food echoes their story in the sense that I initially thought that I would be dramatic thinner if I had food under control.

Let me be very up front and say that goal number ten is still a work in progress (see Tuesday January 12, 2016 post). I’ve lost ten of those thirty pounds so far.

Like the Israelites, I thought my deliverance would look different.

Dare I say, I thought it would look outwardly more impressive?

Several months ago a friend of mine had asked for prayers in her struggle with a newly diagnosed disease. Totally unfamiliar with her condition, I set out to do some research on the web.  I wanted to know how best to pray for her. As I was researching health and wellness resources, I had discovered that the rheumatoid arthritis that I was beginning to struggle with was largely affected by certain foods.

Desperate for relief that didn’t come from a bottle of pain relievers, I started tweaking my diet.

By tweaking I mean, eliminating wheat, sugar, and coffee.

Yes, I said…wheat, sugar, and coffee.

Yes, it was HORRIBLE to be around me for three days!

But, the funny thing is that not only did my arthritis begin to feel better, I found it easier to resist bingeing on sweets when this inflammation trifecta was removed from my daily diet. It turns out that nutritionists are beginning to suspect that these foods trigger something in our brains, something that increases our appetite, especially for sugar.

Even more important than changing my diet was the HUGE change that was made in my spiritual journey, by the grace of God.

I left the teachings of the “religious diet program” and joined a Christ centered, truly Biblically based church with strong fellowship and loving accountability.

No more back-sliding.

For the past six months it has felt like God has actually accelerated the growth in our relationship to make up for lost time.

The combination of setting things right physically (inflammation diet) and spiritually (right teaching, fellowship, Bible reading and prayer) has brought me into a place where I can be surrounded by sweets and not binge. A place where I truly mean “no thank you” when I say it.

Some days I look at the kids’ cookie jar on the counter and sing out loudly, I’M FREE!

A year ago I would have thought that thinness would have come with that freedom. But, it didn’t. Much like I’m sure the Israelites thought that a life of luxury would have come with their exodus from Egypt.

They were free.

They were no longer slaves.

But, they took their eyes off the Deliverer and became very unsatisfied.

I pray that I learn from their story. May we all learn from their story.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”                                         Galatians 5:1

 

Have you ever struggled with disordered eating?

Have you experienced deliverance?

Please share in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.

Love,

DLF

Reflecting on Deliverance

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I chuckled as I read these words in the journal entry written on January 1, 2015; “I resolve to see my deliverance or die trying!!!”

I had written in big, bold capital letters that 2015 will be THE YEAR of DELIVERANCE.

Just under it I had listed ten goals for the year.

The first eight became incorporated into my daily to-do list. Writing everyday was on the list. I have met that goal with a few exceptions when life got crazy.

Numbers nine and ten were the real attention getters.

  1. Mortify indwelling sin-gluttony, greed, pride.
  2. Lose thirty pounds.

Hmmmm…those were lofty goals!!!

I had struggled with disordered eating most of my life. When I was sixteen, I lost fifty pounds and stepped into the world of bulimia. A horrible world of self-induced vomiting, daily laxative consumption, diuretic pills, obsessive exercise, and extreme self-loathing and fear.

As I aged, entered adulthood with all the responsibilities, and became a mother, my disordered eating shifted gears. I became an emotional overeater who never found satisfaction in food. I was driven to eat food, especially of the sugar laden variety, like an addict looking for a fix.

I swung like a pendulum from one diet to another thinking this new diet was the magic bullet, the one that would make all things click. I was entrenched in a cycle of failure.

My desperation led me to a place spiritually that I had never expected. Remember the two years of back -sliding that I mentioned in the post on Thursday, January 7, 2015?  That back-sliding was a direct result of becoming involved with a diet program that interlaced a religious faith that led me away from a life giving, lifesaving relationship with Christ.

In my desperation I did not see the dangerous teaching that permeated every thought and action. The diet portion of the teaching worked because it was simple calorie reduction.  However, there was no regard for nutrition. But in my desperation, I just wanted to lose weight and that was all that mattered.

Desperation is scary.

Desperation drove Sarai to hand Hagar to her husband to produce a child. (Gen. 16:2)

Desperation drove Esau to trade his birthright for stew. (Gen. 25:30)

Desperation drove Isaac to deceive his father for a blessing. (Gen 27)

I’m excited to say that the year 2015 did live up to the name I had given it. It was “The Year of Deliverance” in the area of my life long struggle with disordered eating.

I’m looking forward to sharing what that looks like in my life now and how it happened on Thursday.

See you then!

Love,

Denise

 

 

Reflection…The Rest of the Story

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I apologize a million times over for this being so late posting! I had thought that I published it Thursday! I’m not sure why it hadn’t posted and I was sick yesterday so I wasn’t on the site all day long!!! Please forgive me, dear friends!

 

As I sat reading the many words in my old journals, a tidal wave of emotions swept over me.

There were moments when I forgot that I was reading my own words.

At times, I found myself admiring the author.

Other times, I was disappointed in things I had written…wrong thinking that riddled the page.

 And yet other times, I wanted to climb into a silver DeLorean and head back in time. I’d put my arm around my thirty-something self and assure myself that everything would work out fine in a situation that tore at my heart.

There were certain entries that uncovered old hurts that were laying dormant in my soul.

It became crystal clear as I read that I had spent almost two years in a state of spiritual back-sliding. Throughout the month of January, I’ll share some of the things that God showed me as we walked through the pages of those journals. Things that I suspect you can relate to and possible share in the comment section.

The word remember appears in the Bible one hundred and sixty-one times. That doesn’t include the number of times that the words remembered, remembrance, do not forget, etc. appear.  I believe it is important for us to take time to reflect, to remember.

Hebrews 10:32 says, “Remember those earlier days after you received the light, when you stood your ground in great contest in the face of suffering.”

The poem, “By Your Grace” (see Tuesday, January 5, 2016 post), was such a surprise to me when I read it. I love reading poetry but, I struggle with writing poetry.  I’ve taken two poetry writing classes and was enrolled in one when I had written that poem. As I read it, I found myself remembering how unsatisfied I was with it.  Simply put, I thought it was horrible!

Now, after almost eleven years since I penned it, I actually like it.

Have you ever found yourself treating yourself much too harshly?

Let’s resolve in this new year to be kinder to ourselves.

Let’s step back away from critical words of self judgement.

Let’s love others as ourselves. Our unique, God breathed, molded by Holy hands self.

Can you relate?

Comment below and share your feelings.

Do you keep a journal?

Comment below and share your thoughts.

I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

DLF

 

 

 

Reflection

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Paper is everywhere in my house! With two high schoolers there has never been a shortage of paper.

You could not have convinced of this reality two weeks ago when I was searching high and low for an empty notebook in order to write down some information. I finally started pulling old journals off my bookshelf hoping to find some empty pages to use.

I found myself sitting in the corner of my bedroom two hours later with dozens of old journals strewn across the floor. I was surrounded by recorded thoughts, documented events, past struggles, and forgotten memories.

Like a fine pearl hidden in the belly of an oyster, one of the journals hid this little gem within its pages:

 

                                                                                                                                                         Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

By Your Grace

 

There is a woman inside of me

That wants to be all she can be.

By Your grace I learn to walk in Your ways.

By Your grace I walk through all of my days.

 

The waves of life toss me about

“But, Your love is faithful,” I want to shout.

To all in my life, I want them to know,

Your love has sustained me through high and through low.

 

Within Your love there is power and strength.

You have reached out to me with the greatest of length.

I know in Your arms I will safely be kept,

As You wipe every tear that has ever been wept.

 

My heart; it wells with deep gratitude

So many times, I hadn’t a clue,

You, my Lord, were there with me,

Walking me through things I did not see.

 

All I have to give is petty and small.

You, O Lord, have given it all.

I humble myself at Your great majesty.

I ask that you worketh in and through me.

 

There will be a day when I will see

You coming to earth with a shout of victory.

Till then, my Lord, I will work, watch, and wait.

I will see You, O Lord, for you are the Gate

 

Through times in darkness, I may stumble and fall.

You teach me to triumph through it all!

By Your grace I learn to walk in Your ways.

By Your grace I walk through all of my days.

 

Dear friend, join me on Thursday and I will share why I was surprised to see this poem in my journal and what the month of January will look like on the blog.

I’m excited to share some things that were revealed to me through some time spent in reflection.

Love,

DLF

Happy Birthday Jesus!

 

Only a few more days remain until we celebrate our Savior’s birthday!

I hope you enjoy this song that captures my feelings beautifully!

Merry Christmas!

With Much Love,

DLF

Pondering in My Heart

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When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.             Luke 2:15-19

 

I sat looking at my calendar for the first two weeks in December and sighed a heavy sigh. It was so FULL!

Almost all good things filled the boxes on my calendar.

Christmas parties.

Tree lightings.

My daughter’s sweet sixteen party.

And the list goes on and on.

Dentist appointments for myself and the kids were the only things that didn’t promise to be fun and festive.

In all this “busy-ness”, I felt God drawing me ever nearer despite the demand on my schedule. He was drawing me nearer to bask in His goodness and His love.

I can only image what Mary’s days must have been like. She had traveled so far in her state of full term pregnancy. Remember, we’re not talking about loading luggage on a jet plane and snoozing on the journey. We’re talking a long journey on dirt and dust and sand and stone, by foot or the back of an animal.

She had given birth in a stable…cold, dark, and full of critters large and small.

Strangers came to worship her tiny baby.

In the midst of it all, she paused, treasured, and pondered this magnificent wonder.

Let’s follow in Mary’s footsteps this Christmas season and enjoy the fullness of the GIFT that God’s has given us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Love,

DLF

Flannel Pajamas and a Babe in a Manger

 

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Silver tinsel hung from my hair as I reached into a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree. Excitedly, I searched for one with my name written on it. My sister and brother bounced from gift to gift alongside me. Mom sat smiling and giggling with my baby sister in her lap while Dad grimaced as we nearly knocked down the tree. I picked up a gift wrapped in pretty paper.

The card read…

To: Denise

From: Santa

Tickled, I tore open the present. Inside the box, under red tissue paper lay a pair of flannel pajamas. Hmmm, I thought, in my seven year old mind. Funny, these look just like the pajamas that my Mom makes for me. Santa’s elves must have the same pattern.                                              New_1_DSCF0717

Of course, I realized not too far down the road of life that my mom did indeed make those fuzzy, warm, flannel pajamas. That realization made the memory even more precious to me because I felt the love of my mom every time I wore them.

It’s so easy to mix up things around the holidays as frenzied excitement fills the air.

I heard on the news recently that eighty percent of the population buys gifts for themselves while shopping for others. I have been guilty of this. I’ve actually done it at times without even realizing it. I’m out and about in the stores and malls more and I see something that I need at a deep discount and it goes home with me.

Marketers are brilliant at this stuff. They know just how to entice the weary shopper into craving instant gratification.

We can easily be swayed during this season of pretty packages, joyful carols, heartwarming movies, and tasty cookies.

May we not lose sight of the Baby in the manger. That cute little baby wrapped in

swaddling clothe was the Lamb of God. The greatest gift known to mankind. The

gift of everlasting life from a Loving, Divine Father.

Mom’s love for me was in that box all those years ago in the form of a pair of handmade pajamas.

God’s love for me and for you was in the form of a tiny baby in a manger that first Christmas morn.

Holy.

Pure.

Eternal.

Born to die for you and for me.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   John 3:16

 

Love,

DLF

The Purple Gloves

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After reading the blog post entitled “One Rainy Day”, my friend Sarah Erk shared the following story with me. I was so moved by her story that I asked her if she would write it down to share with you here on the blog and she graciously agreed. Enjoy this beautiful story of God’s abundant care. Be blessed!

 

 

It was Christmastime and I was on a trip to New York City with a few girlfriends. It had been a rough year. Our family was going through a really difficult church transition and I was in need of refreshment and reminder of God’s faithfulness. Over the next few days, I enjoyed good fellowship with my friends in the city, but I was still left wanting a touch from God. That was when something unexpected happened.

On the train coming back from the city, God inclined my heart toward a man who was grieved. He was talking loudly on his cell phone with his New York accent, telling a loved one that his mother was dying and would not likely make it through the New Year. My heart broke for him as I saw his eyes swell up with tears and I saw the anguished emotion on his face. I began to pray for him and asked God to open up an opportunity for me to encourage him. I could see his reflection in the train window and compassion for him rose in me as the train continued.

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Finally, his stop came and he stood up and began to move toward the exit. Again I prayed for an opportunity to connect with the man. As he approached me, he bent over and picked up a balled pair of purple gloves and asked if they belonged to anyone. I realized that the gloves were mine and that this was the opportunity I had been hoping for. I thanked him for returning the gloves and expressed that I had overheard his conversation on the phone about his dying mother.

By expressing my sorrow for the man’s grief, I was able to show compassion to him and also promised to pray for him. His eyes welled up and he gripped my hand and thanked me. The brief exchange had brought him encouragement. I was grateful that God had made a way to connect with him. He departed the train and I breathed a silent prayer for him as he went to see his mother, perhaps for the last time.

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A few moments later, I reached into my pocket to retrieve a tissue and, to my surprise, I found my pair of purple gloves there in my pocket! The gloves the man had picked up off the train floor were identical to mine, but they were not mine! It became clear to me that God was showing His faithfulness to me in connecting me to minister to the grieving man! It was just the touch from God that I so desperately needed in my own time of struggle.

This simple situation, ordained by God, brought me a great deal of encouragement in my own faith. God was still there in the midst of my hard time and He was still working through me and showing Himself to others. I felt hope for my life in light of His gracious display of faithfulness. May you see God’s faithfulness anew this Christmas season!

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”   Lamentations 3:22-23