Friendship

I opened my email this morning to find this picture sent from one of our friends. It made my day! We were in small group with these friends in Virginia (not sure where one of the guys is in the picture — if he was taking the picture or off on a military assignment at the time).

Our small group and best friends from our Charlottesville days

We have all been through so much together — hard things, unexpected, even unusual things. One of our friends in the picture is already with Jesus, having faithfully journeyed through cancer and death’s dark shadows while rejoicing in God his Savior. Jeff gave us an example to follow.

I can’t see this group without reflecting on God’s faithfulness to us and the joy of Christian friendships to go through life together. And also with a touch of sadness as I remember our friend and brother in Christ. We will see him again and look forward to it! Thank You, Lord!

We ended this day by going to our current small group of five couples here in the area where we now live. It’s been several months since we had gathered, and it was good to be together again in a warm, inviting home and share the latest about the things going on in our lives. Again, it made me grateful for the gift of friends and being able to journey through life together. I’m grateful to start and end the day with two different small groups that have meant and mean so much to us.

Mother Daughter Tea

My mom and I took my daughter to a Mother Daughter Tea today at church. We had such a sweet time making stationery, having tea and treats, meeting new people, visiting with friends, and hearing a guest speaker. I enjoyed catching up with friends that I don’t get to visit with nearly enough, and my mom enjoyed meeting a lot of new people in her new town. So thankful for our church, for my dear friends, and for a special time with my mom and daughter.

Sweet friends, a gift from God

The Gift of Friends

Going Away Gathering of Friends

The last week has made me so grateful for friends! I’m not always aware of the gift that true friendships are, but last week was a time where I realized how thankful I am for these special women in my life.

One friend hosted a going away party for another friend, and the women who had been in a Bible study together gathered to send her off with prayers and fellowship. It was a sweet time together.

Then as I prepared to speak at church on Wednesday, I was so supported by so many loving friends. My prayer group prayed for me, emailed and encouraged me. One of my friends in my prayer group came to the talk with her mom!

A few of the friends I worked with stopped in to hear the talk. Another friend pictured above came to the talk and sent encouraging emails.

My three out-of-town friends all prayed and encouraged me. A couple of them read through my talk and sent words of encouragement.

And then all the lovely ladies at church in my Bible study, my leaders and friends, came around me with their prayers and support. Several women in the church whom I admire emailed me they were praying for me or made it a point to stop by and tell me this.

When I actually spoke on Wednesday, I looked out in the audience to see so many faces I know and love from years of being in church together. I could see looks of encouragement and support, and they seemed really engaged, despite my shortcomings as a speaker!

God was so faithful to me to show me love through so many friends. It reminded me of the gift of true friendship, and I am thankful for each and every friend and all the unique ways God has brought us together to go through life and support one another. I praise Him for them all!

An Interesting Week

It has been an interesting week. I haven’t blogged in a while, and I have about 10 posts in my head!

On Monday our good friends moved away. It was hard to see close friends separated; our girls have been friends since they were born and in school together since Kindergarten.

Fighting back the tears for a couple of them
A final good-bye, for now at least

 

On Wednesday, I stepped way outside of my comfort zone by speaking at our church’s Women’s Bible Study spring celebration. That requires its own post!

I’ll save the rest and end by saying today is the 7 year anniversary (4/27/05) for me of a life-changing, powerful moment. It’s part of what I shared on Wednesday. I praise God for today and remember again all that He has done.

Friends Adopting

What a sweet morning of worship at church. It was a joy to see our friends dedicate their three daughters whom they adopted from China. You can read about their journey and their beautiful family at my friend Laura’s blog. Laura and her husband were in our small group for several years and she is also in my prayer group. She has always been such an encouragement to me in my faith through her own faithfulness to God and life surrendered to Him, and I am thankful for her and her precious family. They are also now in the process of adopting a boy from Ethiopia!

Another couple who was in our small group is currently in Ethiopia in the adoption process with their son who is friends with the boy Laura’s family is adopting. Mike has written a beautiful post you can read here. He and Sasha inspire me through their love for others and the world, flowing out of hearts of love for God and His love for them!

And a third couple who is still in our small group leaves this week for Ethiopia for the adoption process of their son (who is friends with the 2 boys being adopted by the couples above). They don’t have a blog, but their journey has been exciting. My friend Mary is one of the most compassionate people I know.

I am thankful for these three families and how God has used them in our lives and for their friendship. It has been a privilege to watch as God has moved their families to lead them to adoption and the beautiful picture it is of God the Father adopting us as His children.

Sunshine and Friends

These are our friends Matt & Lindsay.

They are my husband’s former TAs (teaching assistants) who are now married and live in Iowa. They came for a visit to Chicagoland and spent a night with us. We love catching up with them. We walked to the Farmers’ Market this morning and the Billy Graham Center, then had lunch before they headed home. It was nice to have a beautiful day to enjoy walking around town.

I’m so thankful for the warmer weather. It lifts my spirits! I’m thankful, too, for good friends. I was having a hard day yesterday, and I had to run my daughter over to a friend’s house for a Jr. Gift Givers meeting. (Several young girls get together and plan ways to raise money to give to missions.)

While I was out, I did something I never do. I just stopped by unannounced to a friend’s house who I have not seen in a while. She was home, and we enjoyed talking for 30 minutes, sharing what’s been going on, and by the time we finished, I was so encouraged. When I got back home, I had a kind and encouraging email from someone that also served to brighten my day. Then our friends arrived that night to spend the night.

Between the weather and the encouraging friends, I felt lifted right up out of my distress. I’m thankful the Lord meets us in those moments in unexpected ways when we call out to him for help! Sometimes when things are hard, it’s easy to waste my energy thinking about those things instead of lifting my head and forgetting those troubles and moving on. I want to have a mind fixed on God and praising Him, but sometimes it requires that I act and obey and not simply dwell there in the mire. I love it when I see how worth it His ways are and pray He will help me choose those ways more consistently! He uses all these things in my life anyway to grow and strengthen me, and I am thankful.