What kind of friend are you?

Friend #1: Hey! How are you?

Friend #2: I am good! How are you? Hold on one second.  *walks away to her coffee

Friend #1: *waits for friend #2 to return

Friend #2: Got my coffee, sorry, where were we?

Friend #1: You asked me how I was.

Friend #2: That’s right! How are you? * starts checking her Facebook account

Friend #1: I’m okay, I just went through a rough patch and I’m beginning to question some things.

Friend #2: Haha, sorry have you seen this video on Facebook? So funny! This kid is freaking people out by jumping in this hole!

Suddenly the two friends are sitting in silence. Friend #2 looks up and sees Friend #1 is on another page than she is. Friend #2 then realizes that she hadn’t been listening to her friend since her arrival.

Have you ever experienced this? The reason I am writing about this is simply because I, unfortunately, do it all the time. I don’t mean to. However, just the other day, I was speaking with a friend and I kept checking my phone. In all honesty, I don’t even know what I was checking for! I think I wanted to show her something- obviously if I can’t remember, it wasn’t that important. Thankfully this friend was not in a rough situation, but my attention should have been on her and what she had to say. Other times, I walk into the room and spout out whatever I currently have on my mind and quickly realize that I completely interrupted a conversation two people were having. I think having phones that can do and connect to pretty much everything in a spilt second and having unlimited information accessible can make it hard to slow down and listen!

People are NOT like technology! You cannot get unlimited information from them, unless they willingly give it to you. You cannot demand them to tell you how they are doing. You cannot demand to know what they are thinking. Even if you ask, they still have the right to tell you or not to tell you. Every person has their own personality. Every person has their own story. Every person has their own pain and their own victories. Every person has the choice to share their precious and unique thoughts and life with you. Each person has unique gifts and talents and I am ashamed that sometimes I rush in and try to “catch up” in a matter of 30 minutes! Similar to how I access information on the internet.

I began to notice this problem when I was trying to spend time with God. God says in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

I am God’s friend. I can tell you right now, I’m not a very good one. When I was in the middle of my prayer, I stopped got up and got coffee! Then I ended up talking with someone else, then I went back and prayed some more, then I checked Facebook, then prayed, then realized my ride would be showing up any minute and I needed to get ready. Friendships take time.

James 2:23 says, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.”

Genesis 18:17-21 says:
“Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on
earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct
his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing
what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he
has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and
their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad
as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

God trusted Abraham with the information about Sodom and Gomorrah. I want to be the kind of friend that listens and that God trusts enough to reveal his plans.

A good friend is able to be confided in. I am very grateful to have had a few friends like this. I once had a situation in my own life that I did not feel the liberty with most people. However, God was my support through it and even sent a select few who were able to listen and offer wisdom and encouragement. God has been nothing but a compassionate, kind, loving and trusting friend. I want to be more like that. I want to make sure I remove all the distractions so that I can be the best kind of friend to Him.

 

“The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”
Psalm 25:14

 

Words Planted

It has been three years since I have been a regular attender at my old church. I had moved to another city. When I saw a friend request from the senior pastor’s wife at that particular church- I smiled. I decided to write her and share a picture with her of the booklets I had received while attending the church’s Biblical studies class. We caught up a bit and then she simply wrote out a few words! As I read her words, they gave me such encouragement!The fact is: Words are powerful. The scariest part about words is that we never know what we might say to a person that will stay with them! Words are like seeds: some die, and some grow. And when we speak them, we won’t know what seeds died (have no effect) and what seeds will grow. Sometimes the words we receive grow, helping us be who God calls us to be! Other times, we receive words that have the capability to crush us.

Maybe someone told you horrendous statements as a child. For example:

“You were an accident” or “You were a mistake” or “You will never amount to anything” 

Or, maybe they were spoken later to you in life- in a marriage, friendship, by someone who had been deeply wounded themselves. Sometimes the words or seeds aren’t a simple statement. If someone constantly questions you and says little things to make you feel like you aren’t trustworthy, you could end up believing that you are a constant disappointment. Maybe the seed of their disappointment and doubt in your capability took root in your heart. I wonder if we took the time to examine our hearts how many seeds we’d find planted in us and how long we’ve been watering them- whether good, or bad. I also realize there are times we say things and are completely unaware of what we are conveying. Maybe in our carelessness, we’ve insulted a sister, brother, or friend without meaning to. But regardless of our intention, our words took root in their heart or vice versa.

We can hear words of encouragement and hope (like the ones I did from my old pastor’s wife) those words gave me a boost. It was like a pat on the back. I walk away feeling uplifted and ready to tackle the future-again. Words like that can be like a breath of fresh air, or like your first drink of cold water after a long run. Sometimes our words can be just what someone needs to simply take one more step. One more step to pursuing one’s spouse again, one more step away from sin, one more step towards healing, one more step away from a bad relationship, one more step into faith, one more step away from quitting on life. One more step into whatever your situation may be.

However, the most important word that we will ever receive is God’s Word to us! When we allow His Word/ Seed to take root in our hearts, the roots of unkind words will not will not be able to stand against the truth of God’s word! It’s God’s Word about us that is the only Word or Seed that matters. I am NOT saying that other’s words about us will not hurt- not at all! As I said previously sometimes words spoken in a vulnerable state have the capability to crush us, BUT GOD! His Word will gently expose and uproot the lie and set us on the path of healing! God’s Word is MUCH more than a seed though. It is also the plow which tills the ground of our hearts in order to plant the seeds of truth, hope, grace and love!

I have experienced how powerful words can be. Powerful for good and powerful for destruction, but I have to CHOOSE what I am listening to and what seeds I am watering. A word at the right time can be like healing balm to my hurting heart. Other times, it can be like salt in an open wound. I want the words that I speak to encourage, build up and be full of grace and truth. Words can hurt and words can heal. Sometimes we need to be hurt because sometimes as they say: the truth hurts.  Other times, we may have been hurt because of someone’s words to us. Whatever the case may be for you, I want to remind you that God’s grace towards us bigger any words spoken to us. At the end of the day, it’s ONLY His Word that matters! I want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and I pray that my words would reflect my decision!

I want to encourage you to encourage someone else. Ask God to give you the words to reach out to someone you know. You could end up more encouraged by doing so than the other person. We all need each other. We need someone to tell us that this is not the end- it is only the beginning. We need to be reminded that God is a God who NEVER fails us. He ALWAYS loves us- even when we don’t recognize it as love. We need to be reminded that God is near and that God hears, sees and cares for us and our situations. Words are powerful, lets allow God’s word to grow in our hearts so we can impact someone else’s heart for His glory. 

“May the WORDS of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14

There is one whose rash WORDS are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings HEALING. Proverbs 12:18

Gracious WORDS are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Smile :)!

It was around 2 am in the morning. I had just made one of the biggest decisions of my life. Since it takes me a while to process things, I drove mindlessly for almost 2 hours. I kept asking myself, “What am I doing?”, “What about this?”, “What about that?”, “Jesus, what is ahead?”, “How are you going to work through this?” Sometimes life is confusing. As my mind raced, I felt as though God interrupted my thoughts and whispered to me:

“You can smile about your future”

Hearing this kind of took me aback. I thought well if God is telling me this, then I should dry my tears. Stop my worrying and put a smile on my face. I don’t know that I felt like smiling, but I started to thank God that He was in charge and I am in no way forgotten by Him.

Life is FULL of transitions. Life is FULL of highs and lows. It is full of laughter and tears. Life contains all kinds of seasons: seasons of busyness, seasons of rest, seasons of actions, and seasons of waiting.

I think many of us (well, at least me) have had the tendency in the past to think that when one thing ends whatever is ahead won’t be “as good as” the thing we just left. I remember several years ago having to leave what had become familiar to me for something completely unfamiliar. I kept trying to hold on to what was and not embrace the present and the future was completely out of my mind.

It was a few months ago when I heard, “You can smile about your future”. Well, God, being who He is, allowed me to come across Proverbs 31:25 just last night which says:

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future”

After I read that, I just smile and thanked God, again! I am so grateful that God is so intimately acquainted with all our ways.

The same God who was with me (and you) in the last season is with me (and you) in this season! Maybe you didn’t anticipate this season, or even last season-God did! He knew all along. He knows that He has more for you and I in this season that we couldn’t have learned in the last season.

I know this Jeremiah 29:11 is a well-known verse, I cannot count how many times I’ve used it or read it, but something about this verse struck me differently. The verse says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

The part that stuck out was that it says, I know NOT “You know” God has the plans to give you a hope and a future, not you, or me, but Him! Your life and my life are in God’s hands. He will guide me and He will guide you.

Psalm 139:9-10 says:
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

We are never out of God’s sight, thoughts, or mind! He is working in the midst of your transition/season and mine. He has the plans and He is completely worthy of our trust!

So whatever season or transition you’re in now, enjoy it :)! Soak up everything God has to offer in it. Spend time seeking Him and what He wants to do in this season with you! And smile at your future because He is waiting for you!

 

My conversation with God

Today, if I were to write my conversation out with God I believe it would go something like this:Me: God?

God: Yes

Me: Thank you for always being there for me.
God: Of course Christi, you are my child! 

Me: Sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp your compassion.

God: Continue 

Me: Well, we feel this pressure to have to be “good” all the time. We need to be happy, or smiling. But a lot of time life is just hard to understand. Sometimes there are unexpected turns. Sometimes we face a loss. Sometimes we face situations completely out of our control. Sometimes we face battles that others may not understand. And You of all people could be the one to say, “Get over it, I already sent my Son to save you from hell, and you are asking for support on top of it… And support for something so small” But you don’t! Why?

God: Because I love you so much! You cannot fathom how much I love you. I want to hear everything you will tell me. I want the good the bad and the ugly. I want your smiles, but I also want your tears. I want your laugh and I also want your questions. I want you, no matter what you are facing, feeling or thinking, to come to me. No matter how big or how small I want to sort it out with you. If you don’t cry to me who will you cry on? If you don’t wrestle things out with me, who will you wrestle things out with? I have everything you need that’s why I want you to come to me. 

Me: ……. Thank you God…..I’d be completely lost without You! 

I recently went through a challenging season. And to be honest I’m still not 100% sure of the season I am in right now. But, I have felt God’s compassion more now than I think I ever have. He never tells me, “Christi suck it up- get over it” Instead He reminds me of His Word.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
 A time to mourn and a time to dance.

5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

The passage goes on to say in verse 11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time…” 

The Greek for appropriate is translated: fair, beautiful, handsome. God allows seasons in our lives and they can all be beautiful!

God knows there will be times of joy, fulfillment, contentment and other times of heartbreak, pain, suffering, and loss. But verse 12 says, ” I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime”

Today, whatever “time” you are facing, I want to encourage you as I am learning to seek God, pray honestly, and seek to be all there in whatever season you are in. I believe God allows us different seasons in our lives in order to understand a little bit more His character. In this season I have come to know God better as a compassionate savior and friend. I’ve also known Him to be my Good Father, my refuge, my peace, my shield, my protector and my provider. 

God knows we all need Him and He wants us to come to Him no matter what shape we may be in. He loves us and His love is not based on how much we give Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

I just want to take a moment to thank God publicly for His continual compassion:

Lord Jesus,

Thank you. Thank you for holding my hand through every season of my life. Thank you that no one can snatch me out of your hand. Thank you thank though the waters rise they will not overtake me. Thank you that when I go through the fire I will not be burned. Thank you for always setting aside time to hear me even when I am not making sense or angry or hurting. Lord, thank you for knowing me better than I could ever know myself. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for your compassion that never ceases. Thank you that You did not just stop saving me when Jesus ascended to heaven, but you continue to save me on a daily basis. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for letting me cry. Thank you for not holding my sins against me. Thank you for your embrace. Thank you for your peace. Father, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you! Please make me more like you!

In Jesus name. Amen  

My prayer

Lord Jesus,We need You. We don’t need another government official to step in. We don’t need another law set in place. We don’t need another election. Lord Jesus we need You. We are lost without You. People are bombing civilians, there are shootings, children are left without parents, lives are being ravished by wars. We have no one to look to but You. Forgive me of my sin. Forgive me for my faults. Forgive me for not doing more. Help me not to do more but to be more. Lord Jesus I need you. Please heal and help my community, country and world! We are nothing without You and we cannot save our ourselves or fix our situations. Please show Yourself strong. In Jesus name. Amen!

Dear Child,

I want to remind you that I see you!
Sometimes you think because you cannot see me that I cannot see you; but, I do see. I hear you and I care about you more than you could ever understand. When you go through the fire I will be with You! When you go through the waters they will not overtake you! I hold you with my hand! I bear your daily burdens. When you turn to me and are still, I am the one who fights your battles. When someone messes with you, they are messing with me. When you hurt, I hurt. I see you dear child! I hear you and I care! No person, no situation, absolutely nothing can separate you from my love. I gave everything I had to have you and I won’t let you go! So even though you may not see the way clearly, I see it. I will lead you like the shepherd leads his sheep. I will watch over you like a Father watches over his child. I will protect you. And I will love you as my bride. You are mine and I see you. You are mine and I hear you! You are mine and I care for you! You are mine and I love you!
Love,
Your Heavenly Father