Sunday

Friendship Shows Itself in Unusual Ways

Some of the "besties" God has blessed me with


Friendship shows itself in unusual ways. 

One friend of mine, a nurse, recently demonstrated her love and care for me by presenting me with a pair of compression socks. I’m preparing for a trip that will involve 24 hours of driving over some 1,200 miles. She was worried about me. 

“Nurses wear compression socks all the time,” she said, “they help prevent clots and make your legs feel so much better.” I’ve always associated compression socks with surgery and senior citizens (no offense to you senior citizens), but these were not your grandma’s compression socks – they’re black with rainbow-colored polka dots. I can’t wait to wear them. 

Another friend, my neighbor, heard I’d had a hard day. Meet me at the fence, she texted. We pass everything over our backyard fence – samples of new recipes, extra onions, garden fertilizer. 

But this time she handed me half a slice of pound cake someone had shared with her. It was still warm. And she gave me the best half – the top, with that amazing crust. Now that’s love. 

My best friend in college pulled me aside one day to inform me that half the girls in my class were angry at me. I’d been lazy and had neglected my duties in the dental clinic, and they were righteously indignant. 

She could have joined in as they griped and complained about me, but instead she did the hard thing. She confronted me, in love. I was mortified. That evening I wrote notes of apology and taped one to each girl’s locker. 

No one ever mentioned the incident again, but I learned two lessons. First, pull your weight and work hard. Second, being a friend sometimes means saying hard things. 


This year I’m reading through the Bible again. I just read about David and Jonathan. Although they should have been enemies, pushed apart by jealousy and rivalry, instead they were friends from their first meeting. 

First Samuel 18:1 describes their relationship: “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” 

Like my examples above, David and Jonathan’s friendship was characterized by love, generosity, and loyalty. They enjoyed each other’s company and doing things together. They gave willingly and generously. They stood by each other during dark days. 

I hope you have at least one friend who loves you like herself. If so, I encourage you not to take her for granted. It’s easy to allow the pace of life to keep us from cultivating our most meaningful relationships.

June 8 is National Best Friend Day. Why not make plans now to do something special with that friend who makes your life smile? 

And what if you don’t have a David/Jonathan-type friendship? Pray. Ask God to give you one. Then watch for opportunities to show friendship to others. Look for chances to serve rather than be served.  Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) reminds us, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”


Remember that 24-hour, 1,200-mile road trip I’m planning? I’ll be traveling to attend my dear friend Debbie’s wedding in Delaware.

Debbie and I became friends ten years ago when she was a new member of our Sunday School class. Hearing that she had just had knee surgery, I volunteered to bring her lunch. 

As we visited, we discovered a mutual love for God and his Word. Our hearts have been knit together ever since. 

If suspect that if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone to serve someone I didn’t know well, Debbie and I might never have become friends. 

That’s a sad thought. Over the past 10 years we’ve served, prayed, laughed, and ministered together. My life is richer because I know her. 

What about you? Do you have a treasured friend? What makes your friendship special? Leave a comment below and share your story. If you're reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.



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Thursday

Comfort in Two Quotation Marks -- Hope for the Grieving

My friend and his wife have an ongoing bet. If he fails to notice her haircut within 24 hours, he has to take her out to dinner.

 Sometimes he wins. Sometimes he loses.

It’s crazy, really, how someone who lives in the same house, sits at the same breakfast table, and sleeps in the same bed can miss something as obvious as a haircut. And it goes both ways—it took her two days to notice that he’d shaved the mustache he’d worn for six months.

There is a danger in the familiar. It’s possible we become so familiar that we fail to really see.

This happened to me at church recently. The worship leader announced the hymn for the day: “It Is Well with My Soul,” and launched into the familiar story behind the song.

“Horatio Spafford’s wife and four daughters were sailing to England when a horrible storm arose. . .”

I’ve heard the story a hundred times. But that day, as I sang the words from the hymnal, I noticed something I’d never seen before.

Not a haircut or a mustache, I saw something that makes this precious hymn even more meaningful and deep: two quotation marks.

The last verse of the hymn reads:

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
“Even so,” it is well with my soul.

A writer uses quotation marks to show he's quoting words from another source. And what was the source that brought Horatio Spafford comfort as he mourned the loss of his beloved daughters?

The Word of God.

“Even so,” is a quote from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.


As Horatio sailed the ocean that had swallowed his children, broke his wife’s heart, and plunged him into a deep, gut-wrenching grief, the Word of God spoke hope and comfort.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

God used the truth Horatio Spafford had stored in his heart to speak comfort to his broken heart.

You will see your daughters again, the Holy Spirit whispered. Grieve, but don’t grieve as those who have no hope. You believe in Christ—that he conquered death, hell, and the grave. His resurrection proved that death could not hold him. Mourn your loved ones. Mourn them deeply, but fear not. You will see them again. They rest safely in the bosom of Jesus, and he will bring them with him on the last day. 

“Even so,” it is well with my soul.

If you’re grieving the loss of someone you love today, may God give you eyes to see the familiar. May his Word give you comfort and hope.

May it be well with your soul. 

“It is in the quiet crucible of your personal private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.” ~Wintley Phipps




 


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Saturday

My Imperfect Mother



My mom and me. Isn't she cute?
I’m glad I don’t have a perfect mother. Can you imagine what it would be like to eat the dust from following that train? Instead, I have an authentic mother – one who did the best she knew how and trusted God with the rest.


But my mom did a lot of things right. Today, on Mother’s Day, I thought I’d list a few.

1. She taught me there’s no shame in just being a mother. 
She never went to college. She never dreamed of a career or sought professional recognition. From early on she aspired to be a wife and a mother, and she’s accomplished it gloriously – for 57 and 54 years respectively, and counting. 

2. She showed me how to care for others. 
Our family has a long history of looking out for their own. It's what we do. As a child, Mom saw her godmother care for her mother-in-law for 11 years following a stroke. Mom  took her own mother, my grandmother, into her home until Granny’s health deteriorated and she needed professional attention. 

She babysat countless children, and every one of them wanted to call her Mama. No surprise, really, because she loved them like her own. 

When my first daughter was born, there was no question. Of course she would care for her while I worked part time. Unlike other new mothers who sobbed all the way to work that first day back, it never occurred to me to cry. I knew my newborn was safer in my mother’s arms than in my own. This was one of the greatest gifts of my life. 

3. She gave me the blessing of security. 

She and dad stayed married, even when marriage wasn’t fun. It never once occurred to me that my parents might split up. Ever. That, too, was a great gift. 

I never wondered if she’d be home when I got there. Or if there’d be food in the fridge, clean clothes, and someone to ask about my day. My sisters and I knew what we were having for dinner on any given day because Mom had a meal plan that included seven meals. Spaghetti day was my favorite. Hot dogs and beans not so much. There was that time when she cooked liver and tried to pass it off as steak, but I’ve forgiven her. Even the greatest can have a momentary lapse in judgment. 

4. She’s loved me well. 

I knew from an early age that my mom thought I was intelligent, creative, and clever, but she didn’t shower me with praise. It was just understood. She was proud of my accomplishments but never pushed. If I’d chosen mediocrity, she would have loved me the same. Knowing this gave me the freedom to achieve without the pressure to do so. 

Sometimes even now I catch her bragging a bit about something I’ve accomplished. It makes me glad she has something to say. Every child, 5 or 50, wants to make her parents proud. 

My mom gave me a gift in her imperfect mothering, one that, instead of excusing my own faulty attempts, makes me want to try harder. I know what an impact her influence has had on my life. If I can do as well as she did, I reason, perhaps my daughters and grandchildren will be similarly blessed. May God’s gracious hand make it so. 

Thank you, God, for bypassing the perfect mom and giving me instead the perfect mom for me. She’s a gift I’ll never take for granted. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!

"Every good and every perfect gift comes down from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).



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Wednesday

Pet Peeves and Power Words - Which Do You Share Most?


If I asked you to list five pet peeves in two minutes or less, could you do it? 


Oh yeah. After a 90-minute commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I’ll take up that challenge with grumpy glee.

1. People in the right lane who drive past the sign that says, “Right Lane Closed Ahead. Merge Left” until they can’t go any farther, then expect the sign-abiding people who merged left a mile ago to let them in. 

2. Patients who show up late to a dental appointment, then spend 15 minutes chatting it up with the doctor before they mention their health concerns. 

3. The automated checkout voice that prompts you (at ear-splitting decibel levels) to put the item you just scanned into the baggage area. Every. Single. Time. 

4. The certainty that if I leave my house without makeup to run to the grocery store for one item, I will meet everyone I know – on Aisle 1. .

5 If a bird plops on my windshield, its deposit will land at eye level on whichever side of the car I’m sitting on – on the day I run out of wiper fluid. 

There, that was easy. I think it took me less than a minute to list those five gripes. 

Now, if someone asked me to list five things I appreciate, could I rattle them off as quickly? Or as passionately? Maybe not. 


Humans are negative creatures by default. We have to cultivate character traits like gratitude and appreciation. They just don’t come naturally. 

Think about it. Which is more likely to come out of your mouth – a complaint about something your kids or your husband failed to do? Or a word of appreciation for something they did? 

Consider your most recent restaurant experience. When the time came to figure the tip, did you scroll through all the ways your server met your needs or quickly list the ways she failed you? 

Proverbs 25:11 reminds us, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I wonder, how often do our words shine like gold? 

My friend Lisa is an encourager. Every time we visit, she says something that makes me feel good. Her comments aren't just empty flattery, they're thoughtful and timely. She’s a great example of how to use encouragement as a mighty force for good. 

Today is a new day. We get to choose whether we’ll use our words to build up or to tear down. If we want to be most like Jesus, instead of grumbling and fault-finding, we can channel our thoughts toward gratitude and affirmation. We can speak golden words that warm others with their glow. 

I began this post with a list of pet peeves. I’d like to end it with a list of things for which I’m grateful. Then perhaps you’d join me by leaving a comment sharing what you appreciate. 

If we begin each day with gratitude instead of grumbling, we’ll find it easier to carry the positive words into the rest of our day. Then we’ll be able to bless others. And isn’t that much better than griping and complaining? 

I’m thankful for: 

1. Kind smiles on strangers’ faces. 

2. The way my tiniest granddaughter calls me, “my friend Gigi.” 

3. Books that go beyond our hearts to touch our souls. 

4. Early morning breezes. 

5. Simple kindnesses. 

Now it's your turn. For what are you thankful? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



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Sunday

"Lies Moms Believe" -- Book Review and Giveaway

Have you ever sincerely believed a lie? Oh, boy I have. 

Some were simple and innocent. When I was very young, I believed dogs were male and cats were female. I don’t think anyone told me that. I just figured it out. 

When I was a teenager, I believed my friends were smarter than my parents, I was going to marry my high school boyfriend, and if my good works outweighed my bad works, I’d go to heaven someday. 

Adulthood cleared up those misconceptions, but brought with it a brand new batch of convincing lies. And then motherhood buried me in them. 

I believed because I didn’t enjoy other people’s children, I wouldn’t be a good mother. 

That the “experts” could do a better job teaching my children than I could. 

That I was sacrificing my personal and professional development by staying home with my kids. 

That some women were natural-born mothers, and the rest of us would always struggle. 

Because I believed these lies, I often felt discouraged and defeated. I was hamstrung by forces I thought were beyond my control. 

If I was more easy-going, my kids would be happier (and so would I). I have to choose between the structure I need and the freedom they need. We can’t have both. Because fun doesn't come naturally to me, my kids are missing out. 

Like the Charleston, South Carolina biting gnats famous for tormenting tourists and natives alike, these lies would swarm around me looking for vulnerable spots and tender places to bite. I spent more than a few dark days pondering my inadequacies. 

Now that I’m on the other side of active motherhood and further along in my Christian life, I recognize that many of the things I believed were bold-faced lies from Satan’s lips to my ears. This is why I jumped at the chance to review Rebekah Hargraves’ new book, Lies Moms Believe and How the Gospel Refutes Them

In this easy-to-read, conversational book, Hargraves tackles 32 of the most common lies mothers believe and divides them into five categories: Lies about the work of motherhood, lies about how God views us as moms, lies about ourselves as moms, lies about our children, and lies about our parenting choices. 

And Hargraves doesn’t pull any punches. Lie #1 will make your heart race just considering the implications that it might not be true: 

Lie #1: Motherhood Is a Woman’s Highest Calling. 

In addition to some of the lies I believed, she uses solid Scripture to debunk statements like: 

I am to find my ultimate fulfillment in motherhood. 

Mommy guilt is just something I have to live with. 

My children would be better off having a different mom. 

I’m selfish if I have any “me time,” or I need a lot of “me time.” 

Then she boldly (but lovingly) calls us to consider that perhaps some of these statements aren’t true either: 

Children are really expensive. 

Children ruin a marriage. 

And The most important thing is my child’s education. 

What I appreciate most about Hargraves' book is how she goes about dismantling the lies – she counteracts them with the truth of Scripture. Second Corinthians 10:15 tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Scripture, and that’s what she does – somehow without being preachy or boring. 

If you’ve ever struggled with discouraging mom thoughts, this book is for you. I believe in it so much that I’m willing to send a copy (with its accompanying Bible study workbook) to one lucky (United States) reader. To enter your name in the drawing, leave a comment on this post sharing one lie you’ve struggled with as a mom. At the end of the week, I’ll draw one name randomly from those who commented and announce the winner. Be sure to check back to see if you won. If I draw your name, I’ll need you to message me your mailing address. 

Finally, let me leave you with an encouraging charge from the final page of Lies Moms Believe

“When mommy guilt begins to weigh you down, I pray you will remember that, as my friend Tina says, 'Our scars are not who we are; His scars are.' When you are tempted to believe you are enough, I pray that you will remember instead that He is, and therein find your strength and the power needed for this journey of mothering. . . I hope you remember the beautiful words of Zephaniah 3:17 and embrace them as your own: 

Rebekah Hargraves
"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." 

“The Lord is for you, mamma, and has fully equipped you for the high and holy calling of motherhood. You’ve got this! You can do it!”

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