Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Uncommon Friend: Becoming the Friend You Want to Have, but Do Not Want to Be: Part 1

We’ve all been there. Our friendship with someone is going well until something happens. She calls you to babysit her kids AGAIN, and she still hasn’t reciprocated for the last babysitting favor she needed. Or maybe you are the one that has to make arrangements for girls’ night, just like last time. Or you call up that couple and invite them over, but once again, they have some other plans. So you say to yourself, or your husband, or anyone who can see your facebook status, “I’m tired of it, so I’m not going to do it anymore.” So, you stop calling. You find excuses to not be available for playdates, babysitting favors, and phone calls. You do the “Hi, how are you?” and quickly walk by the next time to run into them at the park, at the store, at church, etc.  And you feel entitled, because the relationship wasn’t equal. She was too needy, so you were always the listener, sitter, or prayer warrior. You always visited her, but she never visited you. Clearly, she wasn’t as committed to the friendship as you. She didn’t make as much of an effort to build the friendship as you did, so you feel like you must end, or at least modify the relationship.
Of course, as you complain about this at your next lunch out with a different friend, what you don’t realize is the friend sitting across the table from you feels the same way towards you. “She gossips a lot and I don’t think its good for me to be around someone like that,”she told her husband that morning. Or “she didn’t tell me she was pregnant until she was 14 weeks, when I told her the day I found out about our pregnancy.” Or, “all she cares about is her friendship with that other woman. If she brings her up again, this is the last lunch invite I’ll be accepting.”
Here’s my point: We expect our friends and our family to bend over backwards at the drop of a hat when we need them. We rank our friendships based on their willingness to sacrifice something in their lives in order to meet some need in us. And we are willing to give in return…that is until we actually start to feel the pinch or discomfort. Our self-preservation kicks in and we pull back. We come up with great excuses and half-truths to make ourselves feel better. “Well, my first priority is my family… I need only positive influences around me right now… They have other people that can help them out… I deserve to be happy... I don’t need someone like that in my life.”  We seek out counsel from those we know will back up the decision we already made. “Good for you. You don’t need to worry your pretty little head about her… I cut someone out of my life just like that, and look at me!…You have plenty of other friends…God just wants you to be happy…”
Well, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of getting the bad advice. I’m sick of seeing it perpetuated on secular television shows and in Oprah’s book club picks I’m sick of seeing in groups of Christian friends.  I’m sick of seeing it in the communities I’ve lived in. From San Antonio to Toledo, it is part of our human nature that has no geographical boundary and even southern hospitality and the buckeye nation can’t override.   We have all bought into the lie that if our needs are not being met in friendship, then we have a right to cross our arms, have our hissy fit and delete half our facebook friends (You know you’ve done it!!! As have I!!!)
Let’s stop right now. Let’s rip up the mental balance sheet that we have for each of the people in our lives that keep track of who owes who what. Instead, let’s open the Bible and see what God truly has to say about friendship and what our rights are in getting our needs met. This month, I will be writing a series of blog posts that I hope to be thought-provoking, encouraging, and practical ways that we can seek out new friendships, strengthen our existing friendships, and recover lost friendships. I have realized that I can be a pretty terrible friend and I have seen the devastating results. I have also had pretty terrible friends that have torn my heart to pieces and left me scarred, insecure, and lonely. Bear with me, though, as I attempt to step outside my melancholy-thick personality and focus on what we can do instead of what we should not do. I’m especially looking forward to sharing with you the wonderful examples of friendship I have had in my life and how blessed I have been by them.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival.” -C. S. Lewis

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Blessing of an Outstanding Mother

I’ve had a really tough couple of years… Miscarriages, numerous moves, marital struggles, postpartum depression, friend betrayals.  Couple that with my super-sensitive personality and it makes for a rough time. I’ve learned a lot through each and have gained a heart for ministering to those who are hurting, so I wouldn’t trade any of my suffering. Still, it takes  a lot of effort to wake up each morning and still have a productive life. That is why days like this are such blessings. Days where the sun seems to be shining on me a little more than usual and all is well in my life.  I want to take advantage of this time to write about one of God’s blessings in my life.
In the car today, I heard Lauren Alaina’s song, “Like my mother does.” Listening to the lyrics of that song, I realize how truly blessed I am to have my mom as my mother.  My mom might just be one of the most perfect women ever created by God and one of the people most representative of Christ I have ever met.
Her wisdom is such that she could share a table with Mother Teresa and Corrie Ten Boom and her heart  would fit in just fine.  She has never given poor advice.  Unlike some mothers who only give the advice that will help her child, my mom considers what is best for all involved, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.  It is always drenched with empathy towards others. I've known mother/daughter teams who get into arguments and yelling matches, compete with each other, knock each other down, or disrespect each other. My mother is constantly mature, self-controlled, gentle, kind, and good.
My mom never cared about being the prettiest, the thinnest, the richest, the smartest, the most popular, the most trendy, or the most sophisticated.  While some mothers pass their insecurities along to their children, my mother is the ultimate example of being secure with who they are.  My mom never tried to pretty me up. She didn’t mind when I went through my tomboy phase where all I wore was umbros and oversized t-shirts. When I would complain about my nose, she would tell me it was a “roman nose” and I should be proud of it.  Its funny that the bulk of my insecurities didn’t show up until after I moved out of my parents’ house.  
 She is the ultimate servant and example of hospitality. I’ll never forget when my friend, Tifft Gannon, came to Beavercreek and stayed at my house after a wedding. The next morning she asked him what he would like to eat. Of course, Tifft answered, “Do you have any steak?” She immediately went out to the freezer, defrosting and grilled a steak and served it to him without a thought.
She is the best example of how to be a great mommy! If you don’t ever get to meet my mom, you will know who she is in heaven because she will be the one rocking babies, on the floor with toddlers acting silly, having deep conversations with the kindergarteners, encouraging the teenagers, etc.  She has the patience of a saint and the play ideas of Maria Montessori. All of her grandchildren adore her and Grandma can do no wrong in their eyes.
She is an outstanding homemaker. Our house was always clean and tidy, dinner was always on the table, the pantry was always stocked,  and it seemed effortless for her.  And keep in mind that she had 6 kids!!! 
As a Christian wife and mother, she is the best example I could ask for. She spends hours each day in her bible, praying her rosary, watching religious services on tv. If only I could be so faithful.
So, here’s to you, Mom! I love you and I’m so thankful that God chose you to be my mom! And I know my siblings could only echo these sentiments and add on to them!
Check out Lauren Alaina's song here!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Importance of Integrity

Why we should pray for our sons' integrity, our spouse's integrity, and our own integrity
In the leader’s guide for her book Warrior Prayers, Brooke McGlothlin wrote:
“Integrity can be defined as firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values or the quality or state of being complete or undivided. Someone who stands up for what is right no matter who is around.”
The bible is clear that loving God and loving others are the most important commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). However, integrity might be the most important trait for our sons to gain to live a healthy, fruitful life in our culture. No matter how much we try to shelter them, they will be confronted with so many chances to sin secretly. With sexting, internet pornography, social media/ease of adultery, the widespread availability of drugs and alcohol at a young age, we MUST pray for their integrity! 
I love the part of the definition that defines integrity as the “state of being complete or undivided.” When we are incomplete or divided in our faithfulness or loyalty to our children, our spouse, our God, problems arise. When a husband’s attention is divided between his wife and women on nasty internet sites (who are half our age, and surgically enhanced), spirits are crushed. When a politician divides his focus between his constituents and his mistresses, trust is lost. When an employee divides his loyalty between his corporation and his desire to make money by disclosing non-public information, jail time is imminent.  When a woman’s time is divided between reading her bible and reading gossip magazines, her mind (and therefore words and actions) is confused and her ministry is hindered.
I love my husband for his integrity. George is the same person when he stands right next to me as he is when he is in some other state. He is the same person at work that he is at church. I love that when his former coworkers invited him to Hooters, he declined and came home to me, in my elastic pants, melted off makeup, and burnt dinner. I don't ever have to worry about him having an affair, cheating on our taxes, or turning his back on me or the boys. Even when I have beaten him down with my expectations, my words, my anger, etc., he stays true to the committment he made to me 9 years ago. I didn't realize then what the most important trait in a spouse was. I was looking for a good sense of humor, good communication skills, romantic gestures, an adventurous and funloving spirit, unending compassion, etc. Some of these George has and some he does not. Integrity is now the most important characteristic. What good are romantic gestures if he also does them for other women? What good are sweet words if he turns around and says nasty ones about you to his friends? I love that my three boys can look up to George as an example of integrity! I love you, George! Your committment to our family and your dedication to do what is right does not go unnoticed.

**I have known many wives who do not have this reassurance and they live in fear about their marriage, their finances, their children's wellbeing, even their own self-esteem, etc.. If that is you, please know that I am praying for you!

Thursday, Bloody Thursday

There are moments in parenting that you know will always stick in your mind. Every "we need to take him to the hospital" moment is one of those. We had one today. Braden decided to make a bridge of pillows from the couch to the coffee table and then crawl across. The bridge gave way and Braden's nose met the table's edge hard. Hard enough to cause horror-movie type screams from all the kids, major swelling, and more blood than I ever want to see come out of my child. After an hour of ice, rest, and comfort, we decided that it probably is not broken so George took him to the doctor to get checked out. Here are my take-aways:

1. Jonathan does NOT like when someone else has my full attention. He was doing everything in his power to get me to look at him.
2. William, our future pastor, counselor, or teacher, can turn everything into a teaching lesson. "Jonathan, can you say 'blood'? BL-OOD."
3. My major aversion to the sight of blood goes away when I'm in Mommy-mode.
4 William really wants another Lego Ninjago ($10). I told him how proud I was of him for all of his help. I said, "If there was a big brother of the year award, you would get it." He said, "Oh there is!" I replied, "Really?" He said with a mischievious smile, "Yeah, its $10."
5. I have great friends who are willing to help me out at a moment's notice.
6. My great husband is willing to drop everything during a busy morning at his important job, to come to his family's aid. I have only asked him to come home from work two or three times in the past six years, so when I do, its important. Its so wonderful to be married to someone who is willing to make sacrifices for us and knows how to keep his priorities in line!
7. There is nothing I wouldn't do to stop Braden's tears! He was so brave!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Praying for our Boys- 21 Days starts tomorrow!!!

The coupled pain and hope that keeps a mama on her knees wears a carpet thin.
But He hears you.
And God is for you.
You are the apple of His eye. His beloved. His thoughts toward you are many and His plans for you are good. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
When your son takes his first steps and you realize for the first time that your baby is growing up…God is for you.
When you give it your all and his heart doesn’t change…God is for you.
When you wake up and he’s five and you realize there are already so many moments you’ve missed and will never get back…God is for you.
When you realize the home life you desperately wanted to provide for him isn’t going to happen…God is for you.
When you realize how your own sinful choices have affected him…God is for you.
When you’re defeated and ready to quit…God is for you.
When you see the desires of his heart and realize that they’re not always good…God is for you.
When your son gets hurt or that thing you always wanted to protect him from happens…God is for you.
When his heart doesn’t belong to just you anymore…God is for you.
When he makes choices that hurt you, no, devastate you…God is for you.
When the threads of your carpet are worn bare from the praying, begging, hoping in God to complete the work He started…God is for you.
And His heart for you is good.
As we prepare to join our hearts in prayer for 21 days tomorrow, perhaps the one thing we should settle is this:
God is for us. And His heart for us is good. "

--Brooke McGlothlin, Author of  Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas they Need it Most

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