Dear Ginger: My BF or My BFF?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,
Long story short: I asked a guy to a dance and didn’t know my best friend liked him. She was going to ask him! But I only learned that AFTER the guy and I  had a great time at the dance and decided to start dating. He is so sweet and is a great boyfriend.  My girl best friend thinks he has to make a choice between us now because she believes he could have had feelings for her if she asked him instead of me. She thinks maybe we should both be just friends with him, but if I break up with him now because of her I know it will hurt him. But if I don’t, I think she might get hurt. I’m so lost and confused… I don’t know what I should do. I’ve been praying so much about it, but every time I hang out with him I feel guilty now. I feel like there’s no right answer. Please help if you can!
-M

Dear M,

First of all – I REALLY feel for you. I hate that feeling of being in the middle of something, especially any relationship drama. Obviously both of these relationships are very important to you, as they should be. So again, I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion.

I have a group of high school girls who come to my house on Mondays for small group. I told them about your situation and they all agreed that this is a tough spot. I wanted to get their thoughts about the advice they might give a friend in the same situation. In the end we decided that the #1 first course of action is COMMUNICATION. This translates into some potential discomfort for a bit, but if you want to find yourself with both relationships, it’s the best thing. I think you have a few conversations in your immediate future.

1.) Pray for wisdom about which conversation to have first, that God would give you gentle words and a loving heart even if your girl BFF blames you for things. Sometimes we have to just listen and not try to defend ourselves- and that takes a ton of self-control. When someone accuses me of something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I want to lash back with excuses, reasons and a litany of defenses. The Gospel (the Good News that Jesus took my sin and punishment upon himself) reminds me that at the end of the day I’m a sinner and I mess up…  even when I don’t mean to. But it also means that I don’t have to defend my cause. I can choose humility and to lay down my wants and needs for someone else. Grrr – that can be really hard!

2.) Have a convo with you and your girl BFF. Start by praying WITH her. Then talk through the whole situation, tell her you want to hear everything from her perspective. Let her speak first. Once she’s had the chance to share everything, ask if you can tell things as you perceived them from your side of the story: “I wouldn’t have asked him if I knew you were going to, but I also can’t change the past. I can only move forward with the situation we have now. I value you and our friendship so much and want to do whatever I can to preserve it.” Also, ask your friend for permission to tell your BF what’s going on- if he’s in the middle of this situation, he deserves to know about it so he can respond however HE wants to. You two gals shouldn’t make all the decisions for him.

3.) If that feels intimidating, have the convo with a neutral 3rd party. I wouldn’t suggest someone your age. Instead consider asking an upperclassman you respect, a teacher, youth leader, even someone else’s mom. It’s important to have someone hear you and make sure you both are listening to each other.

4.) Keep your boyfriend in the loop. He should know what’s up! If he doesn’t know about your friend and her feelings for him, he can’t react/not react in a certain way. She will continue to perceive his behavior as flirting if he keeps acting the same way. This convo might need to happen with all three of you. YIKES. I know. But in order for your boyfriend to say how he feels and have your friend believe it, she might need to hear it in person. If this sounds crazy, consider bringing in the trusted person from step #3. Everyone needs to get everything out on the table.

None of this is easy, but it’s so vital for the health of your relationships. Drama happens when people ASSUME they know how someone else is feeling. Talk it out. Pray a bunch. Ask for wisdom. Hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Here are some other blog posts for you to consider in this situation!

Drama Free
Drama Free #2
Smokey The Bear
Losing a Friend
Strained Friendship

Because Showing Up is Half the Battle.

My new season of life has meant scaling back on a lot of things. You’ve probably noticed how limited my blogging has become in the past six months. Entering this phase of life has also seen cutbacks in almost every area of my time. Less coffee dates with girlfriends. Less volunteering. Less free time. Less saying “yes.”

But in my exhaustion, I think I ended up scaling back WAY too much. The first few months it makes sense to pull back when your main goal each day is to survive and maybe shower. But I’ve put a lot of my relationships on hold and I’m ready to jump back in.

Lesson learned: Facebook and Instagram are no real substitutes for actually being present in relationships.

There are definitely positives to be found in social media. I can connect and share with hundreds of friends and acquaintances at one time. I can literally watch my college roommate grow with her children in California. I can stay in the loop with my childhood Girl Scout troop. But there’s no real substitute for a phone call, snail mail, or in-person communication. I just skyped with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. I met her daughters and we laughed and reminisced for over an hour. It was so much better than writing “I miss you” notes on a social media wall.

I have a list of excuses a mile long for choosing ease and convenience over authentic and present:

“They didn’t send me a card last year, so I guess we are phasing that out.”

“I’m sure they are out to dinner with friends celebrating. I don’t want to interrupt.”

“A text is less intrusive.”

“I don’t think adding one more person will make the event that much more special.”

“They won’t even notice I’m not there.”

This weekend I flew to San Antonio to attend my cousin’s wedding. I was in the state for less than 24 hours. My husband stayed with the baby, we juggled schedules, and just decided I should go.

I love all of my cousins. That alone is incentive enough to attend a family wedding. And sure, Grant flew to Arizona to come to my wedding a few years ago. And also, he was in an accident three years ago that makes his very presence on this earth a miracle. Every indication pointed to making this wedding a priority.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I spent less than 5 minutes total conversing with Grant this weekend. There were lots of guests at the wedding and I know he would have understood if I couldn’t have attended, and yet every challenge to be there was worth it.

I am so glad I went.

**But trust me, this is not a bragging moment, because I deeply regret NOT going to several other life events for friends and family.

Sometimes I let the excuses win out, and that’s a shame. I’m trying to think of an instant when I regretted showing up. I honestly cannot think of a single instance.

My surprise 30th Birthday party was just about the best of all my birthdays. The thoughtfulness of my husband was evident. He kept an incredible surprise, planned the event, and ordered the food. The gifts, cookie cake, and even favorite restaurant didn’t touch my heart that evening, although they were all wonderful. My tears fell that evening when I looked at the wide array of friendships represented in the room. I was astonished that several knew no one but me and yet they still came. Their presence was a huge gift and meant more to me than any wrapped present on a table.

Loving well may take extra time and effort, but it is always well worth it. Loving well doesn’t have to be poetic, perfect, profound, or even alliterative. ;) Simply be there.

This week I hope we all take the time to show up.

Send the card.

Make the call.

Surprise them.

RSVP.

Clear your afternoon.

Invite them to lunch.

Ask them into your mess.

 

You won’t regret it.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: How do I know if this is the ONE?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,

How do you know if someone is the right person to marry? –E

Dear E, thank you so much for taking the time to send in this important and universal question. Who hasn’t wondered about this whether single, dating, or even engaged? I pulled out my own journal from when my husband and I were dating and had started talking about marriage. Look what I found:

“Lord, Thank you for this man. Thank you for this choice. I have so much fear mixed with the adrenaline. God- I ask that you continue to guard and guide. May we both seek wisdom in your Word and from the advisors in our lives. Speak Lord, clearly, for your child is waiting on you. Unveil my eyes. Let me see and know you. Help me to listen for your echo. Lord, please, please, please be clear. I don’t want an answer other than “Yes, this guy is the one!’ So up until we say the “I Do” – if this is not what you have for us, you must please be abundantly and overwhelmingly clear. But Lord, if it’s my choice and lines up with your will … I choose this gentle man who loves deeply.

I don’t want to regret. I want a co-pilot in love and ministry. We don’t get to see or know how hearts will change in the coming years, what hardships lie dormant, just waiting, but my desire is to go through the valleys with David. I choose it. I want it.”

You can see I was wrestling through my feelings and emotions.

David and I were married on October 17, 2010. We planned and prepped and dreamed of the day for months. We decided, somewhere along the way, that we wanted to have both our own personally written vows and some traditional vows recited in our ceremony.

I spent an evening alone thinking about what I desired to communicate to my husband and the people who were witnessing our vows. I wanted to acknowledge that my promise was about more than simply having fun together or loving each other when things are easy. I’d witnessed too many relationships struggle, too many marriages end, and too many indestructible relationships break down after years of what seemed like perfection. We had been challenged that marriage wasn’t for our happiness but for our holiness and that rings weren’t an accessory, but a reminder. And so I set out to explain why I knew David was “The One.”

I always wanted to know how married couples knew that this was IT. Was it just a desperate physical desire? Was it a long-term slow warming? Was it burning hatred turned into passionate love like Beatrice and Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing) or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? (Part of me really wanted it to be that!) Was it a voice inside my head that whispered, “This is the man you are going to marry”? (I also really wanted it to be this one too.) Or was it something else?

My husband received the title of THE ONE, when He was the one I said “I love you” to and the one that I said “yes” to. I prayed all along that God would end things if I wasn’t listening to His voice closely enough. But I feel like we enjoyed each other, pushed each other to fall in love with the Lord, and challenged each other to be the best versions of ourselves. My relationship with David never called for any sort of personality or moral compromise – instead David encouraged me to not change myself for him.

And so I decided that this one was THE ONE when I could wholeheartedly promise to seek HIS best for the rest of my life.

“In making this vow today,
 I declare-I know-that you are THE ONE.
 You receive that title not because of storybook romance,
 I know that you are THE ONE because you are the one man in the whole world to whom I CHOOSE to make this promise.”

I said those very words, made some promises to my one and suddenly it was official. The words were spoken, the rings exchanged, and then the next adventure of actually living out the vow began with a joyful party.

wedding

Is this the one you choose to love with all your heart, with all your life? Here are some questions for you to consider.

  1. What if “in sickness and in health” looks like Ian and Larissa’s story? Would you willingly give up your plans and dreams for a “normal” marriage and life to love and serve your spouse?
  2. Does this one person bring out the very best version of you? Does this one push you to be the woman God designed you to be? Are you able to be your true self around them? “Don’t be in a relationship where you have to second-guess yourself. Be confident in who you are. If you are dating someone and feel like you have to walk on eggshells or constantly worry that you are not smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough, or whatever—it’s not the relationship for you. You deserve to be cherished for who you are, not who you are pretending to be. Changing to conform to someone’s idea of a perfect match will leave you resentful, fearful, disenchanted, and somewhere short of happily ever after.” (Forget the Corsage)
  3. Are you willing to think of this one first and foremost as your family? Are you willing to leave and cleave? …The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:22-24
  4. Have you allowed your community to be a part of this relationship? Have you hidden this relationship from the eyes of others because of any hesitations? (It was important that both my friends and his friends witnessed our relationship. We visited each other’s churches and tried to see the other in their own “environment” as much as possible. This was challenging as we had an hour distance between the two of us.)
  5. Are you seeking godly wisdom about your relationship from someone who knows both of you?
  6. Do you have purpose and identity ASIDE from this relationship? Your purpose and identity should be found in the Lord first and foremost. I know from experience how easy it is to want to make someone else the end all, be all.
  7. Are you able to freely share your thoughts and opinions and have them heard and considered?
  8. Do you assume the best in your one? It can be tempting to assume the worst. “They’re late because they don’t care. (This was a huge light-bulb moment for all of my friendships and relationships. Just because someone doesn’t behave or respond the way that I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me. I have yet to benefit in the long run by getting all huffy and bothered. Giving a strong dose of grace to a situation can do wonders in keeping a small thing like giving me advice on how to brown onions from exploding into, “YOU DON’T THINK I CAN COOK?” Simmer down there, Chef.)
  9. Are you praying, asking and seeking for the Lord’s direction and guidance?
  10. Are you willing to see love as a choice rather than a feeling?

Loving someone isn’t a sentiment. It’s a daily choice. It is a repeated action.

“Love is a commitment of my will to seek your best for the rest of my life.” –Lynelle Zandstra

Andrew Peterson – Dancing in the Minefields from Centricity Music on Vimeo.

I know this was by no means an all-encompasing list. I’m hoping other readers will comment with their own thoughts and perspectives.

Pray, pray, pray. Ask. Seek wisdom. Seek the Lord. He is faithful to answer.

Praying for you, E.

Following,
Ginger

 

Wait

 

Ten years ago I enrolled in one of my favorite college courses. Not only was the professor a personal hero and mentor, but the class itself was engaging, inspiring, and challenging. I was organizing my desk last month when I came across journal entries required as part of my grade for “Developing Faith in Children.”

It’s been so interesting to read back through the entries written by my 21 year-old self in the spring of 2003. Each entry in the book covered an assigned topic and the one I’m going to share stands out today more than the others- and not just for some poor grammar choices. It’s a letter I wrote to my child. I don’t have much to mention about it, I think the lesson I was learning in my own life is fairly apparent through these words.

To my child,

I am writing you a letter you might not expect to receive. If you are anything like I was around your age, you are starting to see a very interesting occurence. Maybe you saw it in the 5th grade, or maybe you will finish high school before you notice… but I doubt that. What I want you to remember over the years to come as everyone else seems to be “pairing up” is that relationships are meant to be cherished… BUT having a boyfriend or girlfriend cannot make you “complete”!

No other person can ever make you whole. I say this today, and I will say it over and over for the rest of your life.

Your fulfillment can only be found in a solid, intimate, growing relationship with _______. Care to guess? With your Creator! Another person can enhance your fulfillment, but they cannot be your fulfillment. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. It took me years before I realized that when my security, self-image, and wholeness were based truly on God, it didn’t matter who was or wasn’t in my life.

It’s the only way to go! Your purpose and self-esteem won’t fluctuate because they’ll be grounded in God. It’s an amazing thing. Will you trust Him to bring the right relationships into your life at just the right time? I hope and pray daily that you will.

Dear one, God wants your fulfillment even more than you do. His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.” So often we make this verse seem like a Christmas list – everything will be GOOD. But the promise is that this “good” is our conformity into the likeness of Christ – an event BETTER good! I love the way that Beth Moore puts it when she says that “God is faithfully putting a puzzle together in each life so that the final picture will resemble Christ.”

Again, I know this is not the “letter” you expected – but it was on my heart to tell you. I love you so very much… but He loves you even more!

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away… slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (The Message)

He’s never early! He’s never late!

Lifting you up,
Mom

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

Reblogged from Beauty4Ashes

 

I’m not sure what you are waiting for today, but my hope is that Habakkuk 2:3 encourages you in your own journey. I likely wouldn’t have chosen my own story from the front end of things, but I am so thankful for the One who is never early and never late. His timing is perfect and thankfully, He does strengthen us as we wait.

Following,
Ginger

Hospitality

house

…”To be a hostess, I’m going to have to surrender my notions of ‘Good Housekeeping’ domestic perfection. I will have to set down my pride and invite people over even if I have not dusted. This is tough: My mother set a high standard. Her house is always immaculate, most especially if she’s expecting company. But if I wait for immaculate, I will never have a guest.

God’s Creation gives us a model for making and sharing homes with people, but the reality of God’s Trinitarian life suggests that Christian hospitality goes further than that. We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests- we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. It is this forging of relationships that transforms entertaining (i.e., deadly dull cocktail parties at the country club) into hospitality (i.e., a simple pizza on my floor.) As writer Karen Burton Mains puts it, ‘Visitors may be more than guests in our home. If they like, they may be friends.'”

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner

How would you define hospitality? Looking into this and more. Catch you tomorrow!

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Hurt Feelings

Dear Ginger,
School hasn’t been going very well. I have a teacher who treats me differently from all the other kids in my class. My mom, dad and others have talked to her. I just wish Jesus would come in her heart and show her the right way to treat me. What should I do to help me be stronger around her when my teacher hurts my feelings? –A

Dear A,

I am so, so sorry about the situation with your teacher. My heart hurts for you. It sounds like you and your parents have done everything in your power to fix the situation… and yet, it’s still broken.

What do we do when we are being treated poorly or unfairly? Let’s see what the Bible has to say.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4, NLT

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” 1 Peter 3:9, NLT

Over and over the Bible calls us to love others even when the situation isn’t fair.

“Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” Luke 6:28-29, NLT

Praying for people who hurt our feelings is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want something good happen to them. The prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. He is not talking about us praying that those people would be run over by a truck. He’s not talking about praying for lightening to take them out. We are to pray that their hearts and ours be softened, be changed, be reconciled. He wants us to head to the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.

For example, if I stay up late and don’t get enough sleep I end up getting a headache around one in the afternoon and I can be irritable for the rest of the day. But if all I do is take painkillers or drink caffeine, I’m only dealing with the symptoms. What I really need to do is get off Facebook and go to bed earlier, because that will eliminate my tiredness. That’s what prayer does to whatever problem we are having with someone. The best thing we can do is pray for the people who have hurt us. Praying for your them will actually keep you from being destroyed by bitterness and anger.

Jesus is calling us not just to do good things for those rough relationships, like greeting them and opening the door for them; He is also calling us to WANT their best, and to express those wants in prayers when the enemy is nowhere around. We are to love them, bless them, and pray for them.

I don’t know why your teacher is being hurtful. But I do know that God loves you both so much. Perhaps God has put you in the situation just to show her love. Have you tried praying for her? Maybe pray each morning before you go to school that God would give you the strength to love her, and that God would open her eyes and heart. I know it seems like a tall order, but I know the freedom that prayer can bring from personal experience.

I’ll be praying for your situation, A… that God would give you courage, peace, and comfort each day.

Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12, NIV

Question: What advice would you give to A?

Following,
Ginger

Timing

His timing, His purposes, His wisdom…

In July of 2009 I turned down an amazing job at one of my favorite places on earth that would have subsequently taken me back to Texas. I was convinced that God had me in the desert to see things through. I started my job in the youth department, jumped back on stage in a local theatre production, began planning for an in-house girl’s conference, and made preparations to travel to Mozambique with the church. I felt like God had showered opportunity and blessing in spades! But mountain tops tend to come with their fair share of valleys. The end of September found me discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way.

10-1-2009 | Journal Entry

I feel like I’ve become an emotional mess. I see myself not able to take any of the advice and wisdom I give to others. I am no more able to take every thought captive than I am to keep from crying when someone asks me how I’m doing. I am giving far too much weight to the opinions of others. I am not clinging to Him alone. I lay on my bed and wept several times last night. The only thing that could stop my crying was to read Psalms aloud at full force through the tears. I am fighting loneliness, I am fighting self-deprecation, I am fighting… and

I feel like I am losing.

I shared as much with a few near and dear ones who came to my side and poured gentle truth onto my searing wounds. A friend wrote me a long letter and I copied these few sentences and pasted them into my journal…

Do you trust him? Do you really believe that what he has is better, even if it significantly harder and costs you more?  

A few days later my mother forwarded this devotional to encourage my heart…

Before the Flood, God had said, “Come into the ark” (Gen. 7:1, NKJV). The clear implication was that God was already inside, inviting Noah to join Him there. After the Flood, when God said, “Come out of the ark” (Gen. 8:16, NIV), the implication is that He had left and was asking Noah to follow. The great God of the Exodus Who led His people out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea to allow them to pass on dry ground and so escape the armies of Pharaoh – that same great God led Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons’ wives, and all the animals out of the ark!

God’s greatness has not been diluted in any way over the years of time. He is just as great today as He has been in the past. So why do you think He cannot lead you out of trouble? Why would you think He cannot lead your entire life so that you find peace and fulfillment? Why do you think He is unable to lead your children in the right direction that will be pleasing to Him and good for them? God is great! (Anne Graham Lotz)

And I began to cling to hope.

10-15-2009 | Journal Entry

What do I know to be true?

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22, NIV)

You watch, your eyes are on those who fear you. Your love is unfailing. You deliver from death. You keep those who hope in you alive during famine. You are my shield and my help. You cause my heart to rejoice. We wait in hope for you. Your name is holy. Your love rests upon us. I put my hope in you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

You are CLOSE to me and you save me even in my broken spirit.

On November 2, 2009 I met the man who is now my husband. The journal entries from November are filled with excitement and joy; a far cry from the hurts of September and October. I watched the Lord stand as my shield and help during some of my saddest moments, and I watched wide-eyed as He brought me to a place of abundance.

Today we celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I look back on the heartaches of 2009 and am so thankful for the love and support from friends and family who encouraged me to never stop seeking and trusting. I wanted adventure, direction, and healing in MY timing and within MY parameters. When I was willing to release my grasp and trust His lead, I could slowly glimpse the unexpected and beautiful story He was telling… in His perfect timing.

 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Amen.

Following and celebrating,
Ginger

Grace in Relationships

I love my friends. But I also often struggle with feeling responsible for the behavior and happiness of everyone around me. Can you identify? I will pretty much do whatever it takes to keep the peace and avoid conflict. But I’ve taken that behavior to the extreme. I will offer five hundred restaurants for my group of friends to choose from, but I do not want to be the person in charge of making that final decision. That’s too much pressure. I could choose the WRONG place.

As a recovering “good girl” I’m learning that having grace-filled relationships doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs. Ephesians 4 does remind us “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but I would be doing a disservice to my friendships if I never expressed my own opinion. Loving someone doesn’t mean just appeasing them. Love wants the best for another, even if that process is initially painful.

“Wounds made by a friend are intended to help, but an enemy’s kisses are too much to bear.” (Proverbs 27:6, GWT)

“It is so hard to receive criticism, but if you can’t you are showing one of the prime characteristics of a fool, according to Proverbs. Understandably, it is easier to receive criticism from someone who really loves you, but even then, it is always hard to listen to something that will bring you pain… I believe that one of the purposes of best friendships is to help one another recognize blind spots.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

My desire for approval sometimes puts me on the defense when it comes to receiving constructive criticism in my life. But thankfully, a new understanding of God’s grace is changing the way I give and receive love. His grace frees me from the need constant approval. Living in light of grace means that love is the highest priority in all relationships.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

How does God’s grace transform your relationships?

Following and learning,
Ginger

Heads Up!  A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Because we are loved and known by a graceful God, we are free to relax our shoulders, unclench our fists, and open our hands to receive all he has to offer. And the best thing he has to offer is, quite simply, himself.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)

Grace for the World

Have you ever eaten a bad piece of fruit… a rotten or mealy apple? It’s disgusting and sometimes one bad grape is enough to keep me from eating any more from that clump. Fuzz on blackberries makes me want to gag. Can also I just stop and say that canned fruits and veggies aren’t overly appetizing? Anyone agree? Who knew peas could actually be spring green rather than puke green? I’m getting off track. Apologies.

I spent my summers during college working at Pine Cove Christian Camps. After 6 days of exhausting and fulfilling work I would stay with my grandparents for less than 24 hours before starting it all back up again. 12 weeks straight. My grandmother had a fridge full of food – but I was usually only ever tempted by one thing – the fresh fruit. I would practically eat a meal of the chilled fruit before finishing it off with a small glass of freshly frozen peaches. When fruit is good you can’t keep me away from it.

Jesus loved to teach in metaphor and parables. A consistent theme throughout the New Testament is the use of fruit to represent our labor and love.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing… When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father…You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:5, 8, 16-17 (NLT)

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. (Matthew 7:16-17, NLT)

Followers of Jesus and fruit (LOVE) are to be synonymous. Jesus said we are identified by our fruit… and that fruit is our love… and yet… Christians today are known more for what they dislike rather than what they love.

How you and I respond to culture is eternally significant.

So what does good fruit look like in our lives? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23,NIV)

Good fruit is attractive. It’s not hateful or hurtful. Good fruit is full of grace.

So as we enter into the final weeks of the election season, let’s pray that our conversations, posts, and e-mails would be full of grace. May our fruit be evident to all.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

Following,
Ginger

A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“And so we have some important choices to make. Every day, a direction. Every minute, a decision about what we will believe. Are you going to keep trying hard to be good on your own? Or will you dare to believe that you are graceful in Christ, marked forever by his divine favor?” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)

Heartaches, Together

I’ve made a conscious effort in the last few weeks to let down my walls and be vulnerable with lots of people in my life. I have always been eager to share frustrations, hopes, and past hurts with my friends. I don’t have a problem talking about personal pain, as long as it’s in the past. I struggle with sharing my current hurts. Because of that, I’m slowly but surely discovering that I’ve missed out on a huge blessing found in friendships and community: having someone to walk through the hard stuff with me NOW.

I shared struggles and fears with two different groups of women last week. I mustered all of my courage and kept sharing even when the tears threatened to steal my words. I don’t know why I’ve hesitated to share in the past. The outpouring of love and support received since sharing is so encouraging.

Handwritten notes, emails, texts, phone calls, specific questions… I am blown away by the support.

It’s true. Vulnerability hastens community.

I reconnected with an old friend this weekend. We bridged the gap created by our 19 year-old selves and became fast friends once more as women in our 30s. There were tears shed, hearts shared, and hours spent catching up on the years we’d let slip by. I’m so thankful for women who challenge me to seek restoration in relationships.

Our discussions last week about authentic community and sharpening friendships… they aren’t just theory or bullet points. I’m witnessing El Roi, the God Who Sees Me, change and grow my fragile confidence through the relationships all around me.

The heartaches have a way of pointing me back to the tender love of our God. And for that, I will always be thankful.

“And the God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state- grace or disgrace.  And why?  For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods- of elation or depression.  The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable.  And always tender.” – Brennan Manning

Following,
Ginger