What does it mean to be a friend?

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble”—Proverbs17:17 (ISV).

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What does it mean to be a friend?

I heard a pastor describe it this way, “A friend is a treasure who loves you as you are, sees not only who you are but who you can become, is there to catch you when you fall, shares your everyday experiences, accepts your worst but helps you become your best, understands your past, believes in your future, accepts you today just as you are, and comes in when the whole world has gone out.”

Proverbs 17:17 puts it this way. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble.” In this case, brother doesn’t necessarily mean a blood relative. Instead, the writer of this scripture is talking about Christian brothers.

Did you know Jesus is the best friend we can ever have?

Recently, I found out how blessed I am with great friends, especially during times of trouble. On August 20, my dog, who would have been 14-years-old this December, became unexpectedly ill. Since it was after hours for my regular veterinarian, I had to rush Taco to an emergency clinic about 30 miles away.

A neighbor, also a wonderful friend, agreed to accompany me that evening. She had already prepared herself for bed but hurriedly donned her clothes and was on my front door step in less than 10 minutes.

The Reader Appreciation Award

I am honored & humbled that Derrick Garland Coy, author of A Jamaican’s Journey to Time and Patience, (http://dgcoy.me)  nominated me to receive The Reader Appreciation Award. Mr. Coy is a Christian writer and entrepreneur who lives in Granada Hills, California with his wife, Diana. Born in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica, Hong Kong, and the United States, he is a world-traveler, former pastor, teacher, filmmaker, and business consultant. His book is a portrait of his multi-ethnic family whose African, Chinese, and European roots merge in Jamaica during the 1800s, then scatter across the globe in the mid 1900s, sending him on an odyssey to discover and fulfill God’s call in his life, heal family wounds, and share Christ’s message of redeeming grace and love. It’s an encouraging story of learning to trust and obey God in the midst of hardships, setbacks, and failures.

There are a few guidelines for accepting this award: 1. Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog site. 2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. 3. Pass the award to up to ten bloggers. 4. Notify your selected bloggers that you have nominated them. Accordingly, I am nominating the following bloggers for The Reader Appreciation Award:

  • Allison Bottke (http://allisonbottke.com/)–Captivating readers and audiences with a mesmerizing tale of hope and healing, Allison is a bestselling inspirational author and speaker. With a powerful testimony of triumph over tragedy, her transparent vulnerability when addressing painful topics whether in books or on stage, enables Allison to connect with people in a very real and down-to-earth way.
  • Jenelle (http://www.singlemominspiration.net/) is a divorced single mother who is balancing work and motherhood on a daily basis. She has maintained a successful mix of the two by focusing daily on her Christianity and religious foundation through words of encouragement which has helped her through the difficult times. As a result, she created Single Mom Inspirations to provide that same inspiration to others that may be going through a divorce, single parents (and all parents) or just a general difficult time in life. She wants to provide encouragement, strength and inspiration to others based her experiences.
  • Lynn Dove (http://lynndove.wordpress.com/)–Lynn’s blog, “Journey Thoughts” is the 2011 Winner of a Canadian Christian Writing Award in the blog series category. She writes about her daily journey walk with the Father.
  • Lisa Cooper (http://gotbible.blogspot.com/)–Lisa, also known online as Elementary History Teacher, lives in Georgia and writes primarily about history and history education for the weblogs, History Is Elementary and Georgia on My Mind. Her blog represents Lisa’s love of learning for Biblical archaeology, geography and history.
  • Holly Gerth (http://holleygerth.com/)–When she’s not in front of the keyboard, Holly loves encouraging women in other ways. As part of doing so, she says she’s had the joy of cofounding (in)courage as well as Squee! Holly is also the best-selling author of  You’re Already Amazing.
  • Tracy Crump & Marylane Wade Koch (http://www.tracycrump.com/TheWriteLife.html)–You can sign up for The Write Life monthly e-newsletter and get short marketing or writing tips along with current story callouts for Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies.
  • Roy Lessin (http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com/roy-lessin/)–Roy is an active Bible teacher and co-founder of DaySpring cards. He has written numerous gift and devotional books. His blog is titled “Meet Me in the Meadow.”
  • Lysa TerKeurst (http://lysaterkeurst.com/) Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey.
  • Rachel Olsen (http://www.rachelolsen.com/)–In addition to teaching, Rachel works with Proverbs 31 Ministries as a writer and speaker. For many years she served as Editor in Chief of Encouragement for Today, the ministry’s online devotional. Now she’s busy writing books and serving with the fantastic team at “She Reads.”
  • John Kremer (http://blog.bookmarket.com)–John is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, which should be on the shelf of all authors and publishers. Actually, it should be in your hands, studying it for all the wonderful tips he gives his readers.

I encourage aspiring writers and readers to check out these blogs.

Are you lost?

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

In my late 40s, I began to keep a prayer journal because I was lost. I began to ask myself, “Who am I?”  My nest was empty. I no longer felt needed by my sons, one of whom had married. The other had just started college. I also went through a divorce after my 28-year marriage ended. I no longer could identify myself as a wife or a mother. Through journaling, I rediscovered the most important part of myself. I was a daughter of the most High God—a God who cares about me, a God who hears my prayers and a God who wants a relationship with me.

Since that time, more than 10 years ago, my life’s journey has become intentional. Instead of allowing my peers and the whims of passing fancies to lead me, my goal has been a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father, who longs to meet each of us at the heart of who we are and all that we hope to become.

I had no idea the trials I would face after rededicating my life to Him in the fall of 2001. My journal has become a place to record my cries for help as well as the outcome of many of those times of despair. The pages of my journal have helped me to find the beauty of God’s activity in my life and the lives of those I love. When my ink pen flows across the page with words inspired by the Holy Spirit, I find clarity in my life.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is peace I find after spending time with my Heavenly Father each morning, pouring out my heart to Him in praise and supplication on the written page.

If I could choose the most important differences in my life since I began keeping a journal each morning, it would be the following:

  • A peace like no other. When my world and the world around me is in turmoil, I know where my peace comes from.
  • The knowledge of who I am and whose I am. I spent most of my life living up to other people’s expectations. Now, I live for Him.
  • Contentment with who I am and what I have. Many of us live our lives in discontent and seek things outside of God to satisfy that longing that can only be filled in a relationship with Him. Material possessions will never satisfy.

James 4:8 reads, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Do you want to draw closer to God? By expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your insights in a journal, you will be surprised when you discover God in the process. In turn, He will use your journal as an instrument to transform you. Your journal will also become a way of holding yourself accountable to spiritual maturity.

 

 

 

 

Why Journaling is More than Writing

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Luke 12:34).

Faced with a blank notebook page, many of us cringe, recalling our school years when we were required to write essays on subjects that held no relevance for our lives. When those essays were returned, some of us were even more disheartened when we saw the bloody marks of the teacher’s red pen. While writing is a pleasure for me, others would rather take a beating than be forced to ink their thoughts on paper again. Being required to fill a page with words can be frightening. However, it can also be enlightening when it is a choice.     Why write?

 

 

  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal helps us to capture memories. Even the best photographs can’t tell the whole story. Journals become keepers of our memories, not just the facts with descriptions of events, but the emotions related to that particular time in life.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help us achieve goals. Writing can help us to define and plan the steps we must take to accomplish our dreams. It can also help us to discover our passion or even a new direction in life.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can harness our creativity. Even if you’re not a writer, being able to come up with creative ideas can help in other areas of life. For example, being creative applies to cooking a meal from scratch, making a discovery in science or medicine, finding a way to cut costs or developing a solution to a business problem.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help bring clarity by identifying where you’ve been, where you’re at and where you want to be in life. This is more than just setting goals. It is reflecting on the past ~ not dwelling on it ~ but examining your past for clarity. Reviewing past journal entries can help you to identify patterns in your behavior, life choices and attitudes. Once identified, you can consciously decide to make the necessary changes.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal can help us to make sense of life. Have you ever been in the middle of a painful experience or watched as a loved one went through a particularly tough time? If we can capture our emotions at the time, it helps us to write through the pain and uncover the lesson.
  • Journaling is more than writing. Keeping a journal is good for your mental health. Are you angry with someone? Instead of getting in an altercation or letting the anger fester in your soul, use your journal to write a letter to the other person. Pour out your anger on the lined pages of your journal but don’t mail it. Instead, go back, reflect on your entry later, and reassess your emotions about the other person and the incident that led up to that point. Chances are your feelings have changed. If not, keep writing.

How Can You Connect with Non-Christians?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – James 4:8 (NKJV).

 In today’s technologically-connected society, networking has never been easier. I would hazard a guess that it began with the computer and then the Internet. However, we could probably trace it back to several earlier inventions like the telegraph and telephone. It really doesn’t matter. However, the proliferation of communication devices now available to us can be overwhelming.

In fact, some of these new means of connecting can actually cause disconnect. Take, for example, email. According to the website, pingdom.com, there were 3.146 billion email accounts worldwide in 2011. Email is great for all kinds of reasons because it creates instant communication anywhere in the world as opposed to snail mail. However, for establishing personal relationships, it leaves much to be desired and miscommunication is always a problem when you can’t see someone’s expression and, once you hit the “send” button, you can’t retrieve it.

Text messaging is another example. It’s a great tool for instant communication. However, miscommunication arises when you send short, snappy answers. Without seeing the other person’s body language, you can misinterpret the meaning.

What gives life meaning? A personal relationship with our Abba Father is the beginning of a meaningful, joy-filled life. He desires an intimate, authentic relationship with each of us. Sitting on a church pew, praying, singing and listening to a sermon every Sunday morning does not automatically translate into a deeper relationship with the One who desires a heart connection with us. While those things are part of our spiritual growth, spending quality time with Him each morning before our day gets hectic is the key to becoming a mature Christian.

Setting aside the first fruits of your day in Bible and devotional reading and journaling your prayers and thoughts to God is one of the best ways I know to grow in your faith. I began prayer journaling over 10 years ago, pouring out my heart to Him on the written page and it has led to a closer walk with Him. Why is it important to have a more intimate relationship with God? In John 15:4, Jesus tells us, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Therefore, if we want to bear fruit and lead others to understand the wonderful grace of God, we must abide in Him. Through an authentic relationship with God, we can have a deeper connection, which will translate into a more caring, natural communication with others.  While non-believers are often alienated by “Christianese,” most can relate to the trials we all face in life. Sharing your personal journey borne through a healing relationship with Christ leads to real connections. However, we must first build a personal relationship with our Abba Father by spending quality time with Him in Bible study and prayer journaling. When you draw close to Him, He will draw closer to you.

(For more information, how-to’s and inspiration about prayer journaling, go to www.journalingwithjesus.com)