Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: friendship

What I’m Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!

I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.

I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.

These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.

It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.

Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.

Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.

The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

What I'm Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!
I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.
I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.
These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.
It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.
Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.
Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.
The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

The Friend List

friendship-2156174_960_720 I met Craig at camp the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years. Living three hours away from each other, we only saw each other one other time, but he became my best friend. We wrote letters regularly, and I could tell him anything. God brought him into my life at a time when I needed that kind of friend.

I don’t make friends easily, and my grade school friends were going in directions that I couldn’t go in. We talked at school, but I couldn’t hang out with them anymore. I couldn’t go to them and get the kind of advice I was looking for. I needed someone I could trust that shared my beliefs. God brought me Craig. Though our friendship changed and eventually after we both married we lost touch with each other, that friendship will always have a special place in my life. God knew exactly what I needed through those years, and He provided.

God does that. It was never more than one or two at a time, but He always brought someone into my life when I needed it. At high school and outside of class I had Justin and Brian. I could talk them honestly. They shared with me. Though I know neither would have considered me in their best friend list, I did them.

The same goes for Jamie. God brought her when I needed a good girl friend. She was by my side through the last half of high school and into my early married life. She stood with me at my wedding. She could get me to loosen up and have fun better than anyone I knew. And she didn’t mind telling me when I was messing up. I needed that too. I’d had other girl friends in the past, but none were around as long as Jamie. I’m thankful God brought her when I needed her most.

Jodie was in my life when our children were young. As a mother with three small children and one not so small child at home, I needed someone who could relate to the idea that I was more than a mom, though it was my most important role. Our friendship allowed me to develop the side of myself that didn’t enjoy Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. We had adult talk while our children played. We shared crafting hobbies and a love of books. God provided Jodie so I wouldn’t lose track of who I was outside of motherhood.

He hasn’t stopped providing. As a ministry minded married woman, I needed someone to confide in. It was especially true as a pastor’s wife. That’s when God brought Laura into my life. I actually met her through her husband’s time serving as chaplain in the youth camp I direct. We used to email almost daily.  Since she’s a pastor’s wife, I can talk freely and honestly with her and not worry about being misunderstood or judged. During the hardest time in my life, she was there. God knew I would have been completely lost without her strength and encouragement pointing me back to His truths. We don’t see each other much anymore, but I still count her as my best friend.

Now, as my children are quickly reaching adulthood, my husband and I find we need couple friends. God has blessed there too. While we have a few we see every now and then and love dearly, two have entered our lives on a more regular basis. Tom and Kim are not only church family but as our children marry in September, they will become real family. We met David and Reatha through camp, and we have been blessed to develop friendship outside of that ministry. I can’t imagine our lives without these two couples in them.

There are many more people God has brought into my life at just the right time. Some have come and gone quickly. Others have become life-long friends. Some are partners in my writing adventure, bringing with them encouragement and expertise. Some get me through my day at work with my sanity intact. I’m thankful for each one.

Charlotte Stanton from Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer would probably understand this sentiment well. Living on the Illinois prairie in the 1850s, choices for friendships were limited. She is closest to her sister, Esther and her father. When this closeness is threatened Charlotte begins to develop a jealous and hateful heart that destroys the possibility of friendship between her and her cousin Becky. But God doesn’t leave her to fend for herself. Like He did for me, God provides just what she needs though in an unexpected way.

As Charlotte gets water from the creek by her uncle and cousin’s empty cabin, she runs into a squatter. Knowing her uncle and cousin are due back any time to reclaim their home, Becky takes matters into her own hands and confronts the man. It’s not a great start to a beautiful friendship with newcomer Chad Avery, but at least they’ve met.

Misunderstanding, past hurts, and pride all conspire to keep friendship from growing. But a spark of attraction and respect keeps them coming back together. When Becky comes home and receives a full helping of Charlotte’s hatefulness, it’s Chad who pulls Charlotte to the side. He’s gotten a glimpse of what’s beneath the hostility, and he doesn’t want to see her give in to the nastiness he’s seeing directed toward Becky. He confronts Charlotte with the behavior in an effort to help her see what she’s doing to herself.

Chad’s words don’t magically work to change her, but they start the process. As they face life challenges, both have to take a look at what they’re holding onto versus what their friendship has to offer. Misunderstandings work against them. It’s up to God to work in both their hearts to prove their friendship is exactly what each of them needs.

Like in my own life, they have to find the truth in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”

By the Book: Who has God brought into your life at just the right time? Have you been that person for someone else?

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