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Congratulations to Debbie Clatterbuck who won a "Spa Moment with The Reluctant Guardian!"



Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Blessings of Friendship






"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." 1John 4:7

Friendship is of God. Even if the Bible didn’t show us examples, the truth is evident in the awesome friendships He’s blessed me with.

I grew up in a military town, and as a child had to constantly say goodbye to friends when they moved away. It seemed like the end of the world as their mothers packed up their belongings and they drove out of my life.

As an adult, it shouldn’t have surprised me when the pattern continued. Somehow I ended up with friends whose husbands were in the military. Eventually we’d part with hugs, tears, and promises to write. Those letters were few and far between—or never came at all. Finally the day came when I could stand it no longer. I vowed not to make any more friends.

For a few lonely years, I kept my promise. Then I met a group of ladies who changed my life forever. Every Tuesday morning we would meet for Bible study and then share lunch. We grew strong in our faith and friendship as we shared from our hearts.

Then one day I realized I’d done it again—some of these precious friends were destined to move away. But something was different this time. When we promised to be friends forever, there was real truth to our promise.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1John 1:7 (NIV)

Jesus is the foundation for our friendships. We have a close, unbreakable bond because we’re bound together by the spirit of Christ. Even today, years later, distance separates many of us, but we still love and care deeply for each other.

Two summers ago, seven of us had the opportunity to be together for a mini-reunion. It was everything you could imagine. The years melted away and we picked up as if we'd seen each other only yesterday. It was such a treasured evening, I had to wonder...will Heaven provide us an opportunity to meet by the river at least once a week? To laugh and share from our hearts? Marilyn, Leslie, Debbie, Lynn, Diane, and Marianne....seventeen years? Let's not wait that long again. Okay?


Oh, the quiet pleasure of sipping tea with a friend
Oh, the precious memories of laughing with a friend
Oh, the tender bond of crying with a friend
Oh, the peaceful moments of praying with a friend
Oh, my dear Jesus….thank you for blessing me with my friends

I love the Sisterchicks® series by Robin Jones Gunn. Her definition of a Sisterchick® is: “a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.” Fresh and honest, her books feature characters who share laughter, sorrow, spiritual truths, and amazing adventures.

Together with Cindy Hannan, Robin wrote the Sisterchicks® devotional, Take Flight! Reading the Sisterchicks® series is not a prerequisite for this thought provoking book. Each chapter of Take Flight! is divided into two parts: Robin’s Nest are stories of grace from Robin own life; from Cindy’s Perch, Cindy gives her thoughts on Robin’s stories, then asks questions to prompt the reader to examine her heart. Scriptures, a bit of wisdom, and a place to journal are also included. Each chapter ends with a suggestion on ways the reader can become a Sisterchick® to other women.

Meet four women who’ve changed my life, each in their own way:

Pam. I met Pam when she was a squalling, red-faced baby who interrupted the life of a spoiled rotten six-year-old. I’m happy to report she’s forgiven me for the nastiness I heaped on her over the years. My sister and friend, she loves me with all the grace and forgiveness of Christ. And though she’s one who broke my heart and moved away, we’re still fortunate enough to have an adventure or two every couple of years. Sometimes we cry, but we also spend a fair amount of time laughing. No one can make me laugh like Pam.

Diane. I was a young mother when Diane came into my life. She changed me with her friendship and taught me how valued I am in the sight of God; she showed me how much I’m loved by Him. And then she moved away. The pain cut deeper than I can express, but she left me with tools to continue growing my faith. I learned a profound truth about friendship from Diane—when Jesus is your foundation, friends are friends forever. Not just for a lifetime, but forever. Yes, I know, those sound like words to a song. Diane introduced me to the Michael W. Smith song, and I think of our special forever friendship whenever I hear it. In fact, I’m listening to it right now.

Lynn. Here is a woman who is truly after God’s heart. Lynn seeks God in all ways and puts her friends above herself. She loves as Jesus commanded us to love, and blesses not just her friends, but everyone she meets. In Take Flight! Cindy and Robin talk about a woman who bestows extravagant love on a stranger, a woman who brings healing to others because she loves with the spirit of hospitality. This is how Lynn loves. She is truly the noble Proverbs 31 woman, and I long to be more like her.

Sharon. Today I’m waiting at the ferry landing for my dear friend who lives across the water. I met her when she came to my hometown for a book signing. I was a shy writer meeting my very first published author. Ours was an instant friendship. We didn’t know at the time that we were both Christians, but God had something very special in mind for us when He led us to one another. Sharon knows my deepest secrets, yet loves me anyway. I continue to grow in faith because of the truths she shares. She helps me stay on the path Diane first led me down. This very spiritual woman with a gentle soul is a fierce prayer warrior. Because of her, I’ve learned to pray deeper and be a more faithful servant of Christ. I am humbled and blessed to know her.

In Take Flight! Cindy says, “Sisterchicks everywhere link arms and steady each other when dreams falter or die. While one grieves, the other keeps a lookout for new hope. Then we go on together, changed, sometimes with borrowed courage, toward what God will bring next.”

Robin talks about acceptance. She calls it the fruit of uncomplicated grace. Both writers encourage us to spread our wings and let God’s grace take us places.

When I was afraid to spread my wings, God taught me how. His grace brought these women into my life—intimate friends, sisters in Christ, forever friends.

We’ve shared adventures, sorrow, laughter and joy. I’m eager to spread my wings and see where he brings us next.

Have you been blessed with a Sisterchick® or a forever friend? I’d love to hear about it.

I'll be giving away either a copy of Take Flight! or one of the Sisterchick® books - winner's choice. I'll be drawing the name on Sunday at 9 pm PST. If you'd like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment with your e-mail address included (use spaces or brackets around the "@"
sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). E-mail addys will only be used to contact the person whose name is drawn. Also, everyone who leaves a comment and email will also be entered into the grand prize drawing on November 1.

Thank you all for stopping by. May God richly bless you and your friendships.
~~Suzie


Note from Suzie:
Here's a link to a blog about Virtual Friends, written by Rylee Andrews:
http://ryleeandrews.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html
And since I mentioned virtual friends, I'd like to give a shout-out to mine: my Inky blog sisters, and the ladies on the Finish-the-Book loop. You've been a joy and inspiration to me in the last several months and I hope some day to meet you all in person.

Okay, now I want to hear about your special friendships.

31 comments:

  1. Hi, Suzie:

    Beautiful post. (Isn't it great to have the debut over?) You brought tears to my eyes, and I really must get ready for Donald Maass' session. Thank goodness I gave up mascara years ago. I treasure our Inky friendships, too. I had the pleasure of meeting some of them yesterday. What a great group! We will all get together one day.

    Connie

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  2. Thanks for this great reminder on friendship.

    I've had so many amazing friend over the years that I don't even dare to start mentioning them lest I leave someone out. I always tend to have two to five close girlsfriends in my life at any given time, and those women mean so much to me.

    I will mention that this summer I've had a great Bible study with three old girlfriends and one new one. It has been a no holding back, share the depths of your heart kind of group. No subject has been taboo. The time with these ladies has been so refreshing.

    Dina

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  3. Hi, Suzie,
    WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE COOL IMAGES, especially of the friends' hands? I am coveting those leather-studded bracelets!

    I call my special peeps "soulmates" and they fall into a couple of groups.

    Writer friends who understand my passion for the craft and are strong enough to encourage when needed, prod and poke...when needed.

    Girlfriend friends who are always ready for coffee, advice on shopping, decorating...what to make for dinner. Chanel sashayed with me about a local department store, fitting me with a Spanx, matching lipstick with MOB dress, makeup. Like I said, soulmate. (If only she would've paid the bill.)

    My Bible study ladies. We group on Tuesday night to study at the feet of Jesus via Beth Moore studies. We laugh, cry, and tell each other some pretty raw stuff. (What's in this study stays in this study.)

    Mentors. Oh, how I "cherish the ladies" (yes, it is a band name; Irish, no less) who lend from their storehouse of wisdom and timeless advice. When I'm down, Helen and Gloria "just happen" to call.

    I loved this post and have taken a moment to whisper a "thank you" for the women whom God has placed
    in my life.

    GREAT, GREAT POST!

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  4. Good morning Inkies. I'm so glad you stopped by!

    Connie, thank you for taking time away from the conference to check in. I hope the DM early bird session is great and I can't wait to hear about it.

    Dina, I didn't really know what a true friend was until I met those wonderful ladies in Bible class. They really did change me forever. And the time with them was exactly as you said: refreshing.

    Patti, I'm so glad you have a friend who will help you buy spanx. LOL! You asked about the images. One picture I took myself. Betcha can't guess which one. The others I got from a website Jen gave me. Royalty free. Here's the link: http://www.sxc.hu.

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  5. Susan, you beautifully expressed love and celebrated your friends' qualities and divine essences. I believe you can see that beauty because you also possess it- so your friends are a reflection of you to you. t

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  6. Suzie, I totally agree with Patti: Great post!

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  7. Wonderful post about friendship. My twin sister is my Superchick as well as my friend Sue who has been my friend since High School. They both are truly a blessing to me. They have supported me through some really difficult times. I thank God for them.

    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  8. t, thank you for stopping by and for your very kind words. You have blessed me as I'm getting ready for work.

    Thanks Gina! I appreciate it.

    I'm off to work now. Taking my laptop, so I'll check back in with you all later...at lunch time.

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  9. Hey Cheri, don't we have an awesome God? I'm so glad he's given you your sister and Sue to help you through the tough times. What do people do without Him when the times get tough? Have a blessed day!

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  10. Okay, Suzie, not fair. You made me cry. :) Beautiful blog, full of many deep truths about God's love and forever friendships. Great pictures, too!

    What you didn't say is how much you've blessed me over the years. You know more of my deepest secrets than anybody else and have loved and supported me through good and bad. You've helped me stay on God's path, too, lifted me up when I was down and other times, laughed ourselves silly. You've strengthened my faith with your prayers and wisdom.

    Yeah, this sounds like a love-fest and it is. :) I'm so glad to have you as a forever friend.

    Sharon

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  11. Suzie, what a beautiful post. I could relate to the heartache, joy and blessing you described. Thank you!

    I like the term Sisterchick. There is something far different about a friend like this, someone who is like a sister, who shares your faith, is constant in good times and in bad, who supports you, and tells you when you have spinach in your teeth and when you look fabulous.

    The only other term I've used for such friends is Tas Philas, and that's what Beth Moore calls her girlfriends. It's a term found in the parable of the lost coin. "And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'rejoice with me...'" (Lk 15:9) The word Jesus used for "friends" is Tas Philas, which roughly translates to girl friends! Naturally, you can guess what our Bible study called ourselves after reading that, and we still do, even though we're called to different places now.

    Lovely job, Suzie. And was it Patti who said the photos look awesome? They do! Which one did you take?

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  12. SUZIE!!!!

    Hey girl, your post is beautiful. Great images, great song. I don't want to go all weepy on you so I'll refrain from talking about my best friends that I still talk to almost every day since Elementary. Yeah. They know EVERYTHING about me and still love me.

    I made it to Denver. We miss you guys! I've seen Anita Mae, Jill, and Connie and I put some of our bookmarks on the giveaway table. Everyone is in the Donald Maass seminar and I'm going to go iron and catch some ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzs

    Thanks for your wonderful post today and reminding us of one of MY Biggest Blessings in this life.
    Now I have the Inkies too.
    Right back at cha!

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  13. Sisterchicks are so precious! My sister is one of mine. Others include: a friend from college that I'm still in touch with after all these years; a faithful prayer partner, a group of 3 other ladies -- we call ourselves "The Gems" -- because each one is a gem to the others! And a new sisterchick that I met just 2 or 3 years ago.

    Unfortunately I'm also missing a sisterchick who chose to walk out of my life a year ago. I miss her and mourn the loss of that friendship too.

    Thank you Father for the Sisterchicks!

    (elaineking1 at hotmail.com

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  14. Sisterchicks are so precious! My sister is one of mine. Others include: a friend from college that I'm still in touch with after all these years; a faithful prayer partner, a group of 3 other ladies -- we call ourselves "The Gems" -- because each one is a gem to the others! And a new sisterchick that I met just 2 or 3 years ago.

    Unfortunately I'm also missing a sisterchick who chose to walk out of my life a year ago. I miss her and mourn the loss of that friendship too.

    Thank you Father for the Sisterchicks!

    (elaineking1 at hotmail.com

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  15. Loved this post. My Sisterchick is my friend and sister-in-law, Fran. Our relationship goes back to our pre-teens, long before we met the brothers who would become our husbands.

    There are the gals I've met along the way, many of whom I rarely see anymore but I know that I can call upon them at anytime...and they on me. I keep in touch with them mostly via email and FB. But I cherish their friendship just as much. A reunion would be great.

    Then there are the ones I've met in the writing community who have quickly become more than writing buddies. I've not met them in person...yet, but I'm determined to do so.

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  16. Hey Ladies, I missed lunch at work, so can't answer until I get home...so sorry to be neglectful, but thank you for all of your wonderful comments. I'll answer soon, I promise.

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  17. Suzie, you did a fantastic job. Your post looks great. More important you reminded me of some of the very special ladies that i know. In particular, our very own wonderful Jen AlLee. And also my mom and mom-in-law. I have been so blessed to have these wonderful ladies in my life. And my most recent blessing has been with all you inkies. You guys rock.

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  18. Suzie, You are so right about the importance of friends. I work with teens - and I see how important friendships are to them. And I know as an adult how important friendships are to me.

    It's always work though to maintain the friendships that are important to us. Thanks for the reminder that it's worth it! Hugs to you, sweetie.

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  19. Suzie, great post :-) I've been blessed with wonderful friends and I really appreciate my online friends. One day I hope to cross the big pond again and meet my virtual friends in person :-)

    Have a great day!
    Narelle

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  20. What a wonderful post, Suzie! And so true. (yes, you got me tearing up!)

    I got to meet Connie yesterday at the airport and sit by her today in the workshop. Jenn as well! Also ran into Jill last night. And Anita Mae. Did I miss anyone? Oh, I guess I'll be looking for Debra in the ironed clothes this evening. :)

    What a wonderful blessing to meet online friends in person! Then to see them as "old friends" each year at conference. IT's a special friendship.

    Maybe I'll get to meet you next time, Suzie!

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  21. Suzie, What a beautiful post. You have a great talent with your writing
    Thank you for sharing with me ,,, Lynda

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  22. very cool posting. i haven't had many sister friends over the years... having grown up with two brothers in a neighborhood chock full of boys, i've always been more at ease with guys than women. i've been learning though and slowly finding those few gems. i may not live close, but emails and phone calls keep us in touch.
    my newest "virtual" friend with whom i hope to one day meet in person is Anita Mae. I don't know why, but she has been a simple, quiet inspiration for me. i'm sure we've crossed paths for a reason. just wanted to share that.

    nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

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  23. Ladies, though I was at work all day and couldn't respond, your comments came to my e-mail in my cell phone (a terrible addiction, I know) and you just made my day with all of your comments. As Susie D said yesterday to one of the commenters: you have blessed me!

    So thank you!

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  24. Sharon, my dear friend. Thank you. You made me get all teary-eyed, too!

    Susie D, you described friendship way better than I ever could. The picture I took was the one at the beach. The word "Friends" in the sand. It was hard work! I was unable to walk fast, had to climb over lots of logs, and then had to battle the incoming waves. It kept washing away my word! So when I finally found a good spot to write the word, there was a jelly fish. You can barely see it in the picture, just under the I and E. I didn't disturb it though. No jelly fish were harmed in the filming of the picture. And there's also a really pretty green rock in a portion of the D.

    Deb, I hope you're having fun and you got some ZZZs. Oh, and I hope your clothes are ironed. LOL. Be blessed and get lots of requests!

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  25. Elaine, your comment made me sad and glad at the same time. I am so sad about your missing Sisterchick. But your faith is strong, and I'm so happy that you have the other ones to keep you strong and uplifted. Be blessed.

    Patricia, how wonderful that your best friend became your sister-in-law. That is so cool.

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  26. Suzie, this is a wonderful post! I've been in that place of saying "Fine, God, no more friends, it hurts too much when they leave," only to have Him send me new ones to love and be loved back. And now I have all these wonderful Inky sisterchicks and blogger buddies and Tumblr pals and so on and so forth! And it doesn't matter if anyone moves away, as long as they still have the Internet!
    And ditto, Patti, I'm SO wanting those bracelets! : )
    Eek. Am I the last debut? Hasta manana, chicas!

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  27. I just realized I started three sentences in a row with "and." Perhaps I should stop typing now.

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  28. Lisa, my post looks great only because of YOUR help! So thank you very much. I hope you're having a great time at the conference!

    Hey Rylee, thanks for stopping by. And thank you for the virtual friends post. I totally agree, friendships are worth the work!

    Narelle, next year, okay? Come across to our side next year. Maybe someday we can all go across to your side.

    Missy, thanks for your kind words about the post. I'm so thankful that you stopped by to read it. It's great that you've been able to meet so many of the virtual friends at the conference. I wish I was there! Enjoy.

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  29. Lynda, thanks for visiting. And for the comments. You are one of my new treasured friends and I'm grateful for all of the mentoring you give me in preparation for my new job. I only hope I can do as wonderful of a job as you do.

    Deb H, I'm glad you stopped by. I'm glad you've been able to find some of those special friends. I hope to meet Anita Mae one of these days, too.

    Hey Niki! What a cute dog in your picture. What kind of dog is he/she? Is tomorrow your day? I hope you'll be as blessed as I've been today.

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  30. Congratulations to Deb H! Your name was drawn for the Sisterchicks giveaway. I'll be contacting you with the details. Thanks again for stopping by!

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  31. Auntie this was such a beautiful post and really made me cry thinking about the great friends I have. One is my dearest friend, one of the first friends I met when we moved to Lemoore. Her name is Tiffany too and we've had the funnest times together and she's always there to make me laugh. Another, Marcy is one who I've only know about 3 years, since I started working at the bank. But she's just a great person, always supportive, always concerned about my health, we try to meet for lunch or dinner once a week because we miss eachother at work! I am hoping to maybe find some new sisterchicks when I start a ladies bible study group soon. Your talking about it made me really excited to go as I have never been apart of something like that.

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