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True Loyalty in Friendship

I just concluded reading John MacArthur’s newest book called: “Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You.”  (You can read my review of the book here on the blog or go here)  Such a great book!

One of the chapters that I particularly liked (and one that was also a little convicting!) was the story about  Jonathan, son of King Saul and closest friend of David.  Many of us may remember the story told of Jonathan and David’s friendship from Sunday School;  however now as an adult, this narrative gave me some new perspective on friendship.

After King Saul had disobeyed God and young David was annointed as the next king, David, already an adept musician, was employed to be Saul’s musical “therapist”; playing the harp for him when he was distressed.  Shortly afterward, David steps forward to kill the taunting Goliath and it was after this event that David was asked to live permanently in the palace (no doubt so Saul could keep an eye on him).  He later married Saul’s daughter and became a leader in the nation’s army as well.  Things were going well, until David’s success and popularity with the people threatened Saul so much that he decided to kill David.

During all this drama was Jonathan.  He was no doubt  an eye witness to the killing of Goliath and recognized that God’s favor was upon David.  This prince, very much unlike his own father, saw a kindred spirit in David while he lived at the palace.  I Samuel 18:1 describes their deep and unusual friendship:  “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”  They were soul mates, or the first “bro-mance.”  When Saul made his death threat against him, David knew that he would have an ally in Jonathan because they had made a covenant of loyalty with each other (I Samuel 18:3)  Jonathan interceded on David’s behalf, but Saul was resolved to end David’s life.

David became a fugitive, and was on the run for his life.  However, Jonathan still was able to find ways to encourage his friend as he did in I Samuel 23:17:  “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you.  You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.  Even my father Saul knows that.”  

What was impressed upon me was not just how this friendship was extraordinary, but that Jonathan had a fierce loyalty to David, even though he knew that he would not inherit the throne from his father Saul.  There was no animosity, no jealousy.  He humbly continued to support and uplift David, even telling him that when David took the throne, he would be there beside him as continual support.  Jonathan truly loved David and had no earthly agenda with David’s friendship.  He “did not merely accept his non-kingly role; he embraced it wholeheartedly — eagerly protecting and promoting the one whom God had appointed to be king instead of him.” (MacArthur, Pg. 104)  

Today I believe we treat loyalty and friendship in itself far too loosely, especially when it comes to our own success and accomplishments.  Through TV reality shows, the workplace and other situations, we witness how those who say they are “BFF’s” will turn on each other with gossip and antagonism when one has something good happen to them.  Competition and jealousy take over, and the friends will take sides with other people dragged intp the drama in order to push forward their own agenda.  How can that be called friendship?

Paul the Apostle tells us how to be a real friend in Colossians 3:12-14:  “….clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  

I want to learn to be a true and loyal friend like Jonathan, don’t you?  A faithful, dependable, loving confidant who embraces her specific role that God desires in that relationship.  That role may be as an encourager, promoter, protector, mentor or all of the above.  I do love my friends, but I know that I can continue to improve more and more to be the friend back to them that I know that God can enable me to be.

Why not take time this week to contact a friend that you haven’t talked to in a long time with a handwritten note or phone call (no texting or Facebooking allowed!)  Or if the Lord has impressed on your heart someone from your past, look for them through Facebook and reconnect!

Away from the winding road . . .

My original intentions for this blog, back in 2008, was to share all the usable mothering information I found and experienced about saving money, raising family, homemaking and domestic life.  That intention has changed significantly, and my blog has been given a purposeful “facelift.”  While there may be some sporadic posts with useful information on the original topics and the layout may get updated from time to time, the blog will now have much more to do with parenting, marriage, leadership and building community.
  
For the last year, I feel as though I have been on long and winding road, learning more about God, establishing a closer relationship with Him and discovering where He wants to take me next on the journey.

How I got here; a little testimony:
I had been blessed to be involved in MOPS (for more information, see mops.org) since my oldest son was 4 years old in 2000.  Since then, I became involved in MOPS group leadership, leading the original group I joined, then starting a new MOPS group at my home church.  From that step, I was encouraged to apply and was accepted for MOPS field leadership where I had opportunity for mentoring, leading and training other MOPS moms in my local area and parts of Texas. It was awesome! I could still be a part of the ministry I loved, even though I had “outgrown” eligibility in a traditional MOPS group (my youngest started Kindergarten in the fall of 2008)  I knew that I was on the right road, and using my gifts and talents for my real calling!   I happily attended trainings and conventions, plus enjoyed the camaraderie with other Texas leaders.  I loved connecting with other women, and I especially loved preparing and speaking to moms and MOPS leaders.

In the spring of 2010, things changed.  My passion for MOPS (as well as other responsibilities) vanished, and I fell into a dark period of depression.  I pushed through my responsibilities for MOPS, but there was no more  passion for what I was doing.  As a result, I retired from MOPS leadership, since my heart was not in my real calling any longer. At the time I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do, but I had realized that I didn’t have the energy or ability to function in that position that way that was expected of me.

Originally, I had gotten involved in MOPS because I wanted to be the best mom I could be and use my skills to help others.  Now I saw myself as just a stay at home mom without any mission other than raising my kids, who were both in school.  I fell deeper in depression, and while I managed to put on a good facade around other people, I made life miserable for my family.

After several weeks of misery, my sweet husband finally confronted me about how bad my mood swings, excessive sleeping and overall rotten disposition had become and how it was damaging our marriage.  He went with me to our family doctor, and with support, I was able to get back on track. (I will speak more about this journey in the future.)  

Since that time, it has been almost two years of “recovery.”  I have learned more about Jesus, made repairs in my relationship with Him, and clearly discovered the direction He wants me to go!  The result?  The dream that I thought I was fulfilling with MOPS, was only just a portion of the pie!  God didn’t take my dream away from me — He only redirected me.  Helping other women will still be the ministry, but God has pushed me to develop a bigger dream:  going on my own to speak, write and lead, building communities of women who in turn help other women.     

I hope you will visit here often and be a part of the journey I’m taking with Jesus.  I want to share with you, so that you can share with others.  It’s exciting, and I am in anticipation of what the road ahead will be like!

Where Does the Time Go?

The one thing that I love about Blogger is that when you blog, it not only becomes your own diary or journal about life and family happenings, but it can become a great encouragement for yourself and what you have learned on the journey!

I came across this blog entry today (click to read) — and it is hard to believe this was posted 4 years ago!  Now when school starts on August 27th, my youngest will be in 4th grade, and my oldest a sophomore in high school!  Where has the time gone?

Psalm 121 is still an important passage for me as I have had to look continually for God’s help during those times when I have had to teach and coach my kids about friendships, social issues, choices, consequences, the media and so many other things that the world uses to entrap them and discourage them.  We have had some difficult times, and there have been many “teaching moments” that I wish would have happened differently, but God is faithful, and He is still at work in our family and all of us are changing for the better!

Being a mom is a lifelong journey, and thankfully we can get help that we need to prepare our children for their independence!  Don’t give up, Mom — know where your Help comes from!  The Maker of heaven and earth will move heaven and earth to be there for you when you need it and ask for it!

Deuter-what?

Deuteronomy may not be one of those “go to” books in the Bible’s Old Testament, but did you know that it has a multitude of encouraging nuggets for moms?  Yep, right in with all those laws and commandments that were given to the Israelites by God through Moses.

Jesus knew the importance of this book when He quoted from it as He taught (Matthew 4:4).  He was the Son of God, but He was also a teacher, a rabbi to His followers.  Rabbi was a title of dignity given by the Jews to the masters of the law and distinguished teachers.  And of course, Jesus knew His stuff!

So if Jesus knew this book was important, let’s see what nuggets we can find to incorporate into our own lives today.

In chapter 4, Moses is giving Israel a warning from God about idolatry, but look in verse 29, for the treasure:  “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God.  And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”  (NLT)  When we need God, He is always “findable!”  He doesn’t play hide and seek with us; when we truly look for Him and ask of Him, He is going to be right there for us. (see also Psalm 146:18)

While that’s a good promise right there, it gets better.  Verses 30-31 say this:  “When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says.  God, your God, is above all a compassionate God.  In the end, he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.”  (MSG)

“When troubles come.”  Oh, and don’t we know that to be true?  We have our good times, but troubles can be around the corner:  your child becomes desperately sick, the hubs gets laid off, the house payment is late, the minivan needs major repair, again.  Each of us has had, and will have, our share of trouble.

“You will come back to God.”  When there are good times, don’t we sometimes have a tendency to let things roll and not be close to God as we should?  Don’t worry.  He knows.  And he knows that you will come looking for Him when things aren’t so good.  He wants you to.  He also wants you to listen to what He has to say to you and follow it so He can help you through the bad times.

“God, your God, is above all a compassionate God.”  He is your God!  You don’t need permission to approach Him.  He is merciful, kind, sympathetic and understanding.  He is ALL heart!  He’s ready to wrap you in a loving hug as you are going through your mess.

“He will not abandon you, he won’t forget …”  He is ever faithful and will never reject or turn away from you no matter what the trouble is or what you may have done!   He is yours and you are His.  He will always be attentive and listen to everything that you have to tell Him during your distress.

My sweet momma friends — don’t feel as though when troubles come that you cannot go to your God for help and a hug.  Even if you haven’t spent much time with Him lately during the good times, He is forgiving, loving and always, always there for you.  All He wants is for you to come to Him.  He is “our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. “ (Psalm 46:1)

Is there something that you need and want to share with Him today?  Don’t wait. Go to Him and ask for His help.  And don’t forget to ask for the hug.  He gives the best hugs ever!

When Does School Start???

It’s been a LONG summer. Believe it or not, I think even my kids are ready for summer to end. We are all running out of creative ideas, and all the boys want to do is play video games (and I don’t think so!). There seems to be more bickering, more sassing, and with the 100 degrees days here in Texas, there is only so much we can do in the house without being all over each other.

So when does school start? For us it’s August 25th. I know Joshua (who is 5) is excited about school, since he is starting Kindergarten. We’ll find out next week who his teacher will be, and I’ve been praying so hard for the right teacher for him! I want his first year of school to be a good experience for him. And it’s going to be a rough week – for me – since he has been my little buddy here at home for so long!

Matt is starting middle school. A scary prospect for me — I worry about his organizational skills, whether he’ll remember to bring home what he needs for homework each day, and if he gets good teachers. I worry that he’ll pick up bad habits from the other kids, if he’ll still apply his best like in 5th grade, and if he finds a good crowd of friends to run with. (Not to mention all the other things that happen with peer pressure!)

I know I am worrying myself silly and not looking to the Lord for reassurance and help. I went to the Word and found this in Psalms 121 about how He takes care of his own:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let our foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

That last verse is such a comfort for me as my kids enter school this fall. He will keep them from all harm. He will watch over their lives. I have done the best I can do as their mom; I need to entrust the Lord with my children and allow him to do what he does best.