Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts On Friendship.

Recently, I was asked what I am passionate about, besides the "obvious" things that take up most of my time.  It was a great question and after careful consideration, I realized that I have become quite passionate about friendship and what it means to be a real friend.  

For the longest time, I didn't feel like I had any close friends.  I had a lot of people in my life who I considered great people and fun to be around, but I wanted more than that.  I always have.  I think we can all agree that it doesn't get easier to make or keep friends as time goes on, am I right?  In adulthood, they require more intentionality and effort than in high school or college. The last year and a half though, I have been really focusing on cultivating deep friendships.

It might sound childish to say I have a "best" friend, but I do.  Her name is Nicole and she has a blog (here) and I am certain that if you don't know her you would like her (and if you do know her I'm sure you're nodding your head in agreement).  She is genuine.  Kind.  Caring.  Funny.  Fun.  On the outside, we are very different people.  She likes blue.  I like pink.  She is more soft spoken, I am more loud spoken (hmmm), she likes math and numbers, and I... don't.  She likes to be in the background I like to be in the foreground.

What I've learned through my friendship with Nicole is that we must love each other deeply.  It's easy enough to have friends to go out and have fun with, but until you are willing to go into the darker places of a persons heart I don't think true friendship can really take root.  Nicole knows my insecurities and I know hers, we probably found those out the difficult way, but to expose yourself like that to someone causes a relationship to go from surface-y to meaningful.

A couple of weeks ago, I truly feel that our friendship went to a new level.  Nicole and Kenny's dog, Marlie, was in an accident that caused a non-life-threatening injury that would cost close to $2000 to fix, so they had to put her to sleep.  It was awful.  She called me crying.  Then I started crying.  and then I prayed for her even though I don't know if God hears prayers about animals but I know he hears prayers about people so I did.  I tried to comfort her and tell her it would be ok no matter what they chose to do.  Later, we went to her puppy's burial, and we were all crying and it was terrible but I loved being there for her, with her.  Because friendship isn't always about fun and silliness, it's about putting each others needs ahead of your own.  It's about crying with your best friend who just buried her puppy. Marlie's death was sad but it didn't break my heart... what broke my heart was seeing my sweet Nicole, my best friend, devastated and distraught. 

Fortunately, everything worked out and last night they welcomed a new puppy into their little family.  Her name is Izzie and the cuteness just oozes out of her as she stumbles around finding her new legs.  I got out of work and there was a note in my car, from Nicole, sharing her excitement with me as she left town to go get Izzie.  I went to her house after she got home and celebrated and laughed over the new puppy and rejoiced with her in her happiness. Because I want to be her best friend all the time- in the good and the bad.  In the sweet moments and the bitter.  In times of freedom and in moments of insecurity.

 In the last couple of months, I've been working on extending this sort of depth of relationship to other friends as well.  It's not always easy and it takes time and learning,  but I truly believe that it is worth it.

This is what friendship means to me.  What does it mean to you?

(Nicole and her husband Kenny)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Fun Gene.

My Mom has what we, her children, call "The Fun Gene".
aaaand, she gave it to us.
Genetically speaking, it's probably one of the best genes a Mom can pass on to her children.
(That is a matter of opinion, I suppose.)

My mom has taught me how to enjoy life, and look for the good in it.  I hadn't realized until recently how rare it is to have a Mom that takes her children out in a blizzard to do donuts in the elementary school parking lot, or how thankful I am for it.  I've also come to realize that I have a varying motivations for different parts of my life, but lately my "Appeal to fun" has manifested itself.

For example... yesterday we were at my parents cottage and Josh asked me if I wanted to go swimming.  I didn't really want to because I was quite comfortable.  The air was the perfect temperature with the perfect breeze, I had just straightened my hair that morning, and my bathing suit takes a long time to dry so I said, "eh, I don't think I want to swim."

His response was, "Is it because you don't want to get your hair wet?"

(me: "No!" He knows me too well!)

Josh: "It would be funnnn! Come on, this could be the last day of the summer to go swimming together.  I'm going with or without you but it would be better with you."

The appeal to fun got me, and we got a running head start off of the dock (in hopes that Buddy would chase us and then jump in after us.. which he did not) and with two splashes we were swimming!

Do you have something that motivates decisions for you?  Did you get the Fun Gene? Now I must be honest, if my appeal to fun was the only thing that I based decisions on I would be a much different person than I am today.   But in the right situation, it can motivate me rather quickly to be quite silly.

Example #2:  Last week, the Kent County Youth Fair was in town.  There is a ride there called The  Zipper.  As a youngster, my sister Lindsay and I would ride it tirelessly.  As I've gotten older though, logical thoughts like, "Hmmm.. they put that thing together in a few hours?" prevented me from going on it at all.  Lindsay is in town, though, and we both have the fun gene and the zipper was looking so inviting that, despite our better judgments, we decided to go on it.  It exceeded my expectations for a good time!  I was a sweaty, almost-late-for-work mess because of it, but the experience with my sister was absolutely worth it.

So anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to my beautiful Mom for passing on her passion for life (aka the Fun Gene) to me and my brothers and sisters.

Here are a few pictures of our experience on the Zipper :)

Seriously, that thing can not be safe.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meteor Showers and Answered Prayer.

Tonight, Josh and I decided to lay in the front yard and watch the meteor shower.  It was really fun and felt very romantic and I love that Josh likes to do things like that.  We were a few minutes from going inside, but we were waiting for just one more meteor to fall.

Hesitatingly, doubtfully, I prayed to myself, "God, can you make it a big one? Like, one that streaks across the whole sky?  So I know you're really there and really hear my prayers?"

I was so filled with doubt that I didn't expect it at all.  Noticing my complete lack of faith I said again, "Lord, I believe that you hear me and I believe that you can do something so simple for me.  I'm not putting our relationship on the line or anything, but can I see just this one, small thing to know you are really there and really hear me?  I'll still believe in you if you don't, but it would be really nice if you did."




Still nothing.

Finally, Josh said, "Alright, I'm ready to go inside."

Disappointed, I agreed.  As we began our walk across the long, dark front yard I looked over at him to grab his hand because I couldn't see it.  Just then he exclaimed, "WHOA! Did you see that one?!  That was the biggest one I've seen all night!  Did you see it??"

In the short moment I had looked away from the sky to take my Joshua's hand, God answered my prayer.  Not even a second later I felt God impress this my heart: "Sometimes, I will show Josh things that you don't see.  I will answer prayers that you are praying through him, even if you miss or don't see it.  Trust Me. Trust him."

and I do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Puritan Prayer.

Almighty God, as I start this day I commit myself, soul, body, tasks, friends, to You. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Make my heart at one with you. Mold me completely into the image of Jesus, like a potter molds clay. May my lips be a well-tuned instrument to sound Your praise. Let those around see me living by Your Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, refusing the lies of the world, transformed by a renewed mind, wearing the full amour of God, shining as an always burning light, showing holiness in everything I do.  Don’t let evil enter my thoughts, words or hands. May I travel the dusty roads of life clean from spot or stain. In everything I do let my affection be in heaven, and my love fly upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its pride. May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, finding hope in the new heaven and earth. Today order all my communications according to Your wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Don’t let me be used or use others. May I speak each word as if it was my last word, and walk each step as if it was my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day ever.

Can I get an amen?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Random Thoughts on Marriage.

Here a few musings on marriage that I have been mulling over the last few weeks:
If you don’t marry someone who wants to have an awesome marriage, I don’t know if it’s possible for it to happen.  If your spouse doesn’t want to be crazy in love, if your spouse doesn’t want to love you the way you need to be loved, if your spouse doesn’t want to put you ahead of themselves and make your dreams theirs, I’m just not sure it’s possible to have an incredible marriage.  In-loveness isn’t something that lasts on its own (obviously).  If both partners in the marriage don’t strive for that, it will fade.  So if you’re reading this and you’re not married, I would recommend waiting to find someone who wants the same kind of marriage you do.  I know Josh loves me, but I just can’t figure out why he wants to love me well.  Not all men do.  He does.  It baffles me.  I’ve asked him why, and he said it’s because it’s the example Jesus Christ gave us.  “Husbands, love your wives the way Christ loves the church.” But, why does that matter to him when it matters to so few other Christian husbands?  Needless to say, I’m very thankful.
Recently, I found myself getting lazy when it comes to my physical appearance around Josh late at night.  We would both get home from whatever filled our days and then I would quickly go and change and put my pjs on or a t-shirt and workout pants.  I realized that it wasn’t cool of me to get all dolled up to be around other people, and then to be “cozy” and “lazy” around him.  So, I’ve been waiting until just before bed to get dressed down.  I want to look nice for Josh more than anyone else.  Sometimes, I even put perfume on right before I climb in bed.  Why not?  I want him to smell it more than anyone else.
When Josh comes home, I go to the door to greet him.  I usually run and I make sure I smile and let him know how genuinely happy I am to see him (which isn’t hard at all).  I’ve always done this, but now that Buddy is in our lives, I do it with even more resolve.  Partially because it feels SO good when I get home and Buddy runs to greet me and is so super excited, and partially because now I have to compete with Buddy when Josh gets home.  A mans dog shouldn’t be more welcoming and excited to see him than his wife.  Right?  
Everyone always says, “communication is key to a successful marriage” and they are right.  What’s interesting is that I find that when I am upset about even the smallest thing, I don’t like to talk.  I like to clam up.  It’s the strangest thing... and it makes me love my husband even more when he doesn’t ignore my quiet moods but instead presses into them to get to the source of my pseudo-silence.  He doesn’t have to.  If I’m not willing to share what is on my heart, it’s not his responsibility to get it out of me. But he loves me, so he does.  He did this week.  and then he listened.  and then I cried and said lots of things that weren’t true, lies, that needed to be defeated with the truth.  Amazingly, when I voiced the things going on in my heart, he didn’t even have to say anything because as soon as they were said I could sense their silliness and their untruth.  If he hadn’t pressed through, though, who knows how long the untruths would have slowly chipped away at our in-loveness, and how long the lies would have gone unspoken and believed to be true.
and finally, I’m really excited because we are going to be celebrating 2 years of marriage in a couple of months which means we’re out of the normal “honeymoon stage” which means people will stop dismissing our love as newly-wedded bliss that won’t last!  Huzzah!