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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Checklist for True Friendship


CHECKLIST for TRUE FRIENDSHIP

True friends are constant in ways you can count on. A friend like that came to visit me this weekend.

She endured a four-hour drive, lengthened by a traffic accident that jammed the freeway for hours. That meant a late arrival and no time to get together the first day.

We have kept up by email and phone calls since I moved away nine years ago. I must say I’m thankful for modern communication, but, for me, nothing beats getting together in person.

My friend and I encouraged each other through major medical treatments, my big move, and caregiver challenges for both of us. Like Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times."


NO TIME LIMIT


Many wonderful characteristics of love are listed in First Corinthians Thirteen. You often hear them mentioned in marriage ceremonies, and that’s wonderful. But I see them as important for building friendships, too.

A loving friendship lasts because it is affection based on esteem, shown by respect and appreciation.

Benjamin DeJong said, “Friends, like all good things in this life, can be had by anyone who wants them. There is only one simple rule to follow; it is this: to have a friend, be one yourself.” If you believe that statement, then this Checklist for True Friendship can be used both ways.

CHECK THE LIST

True Friends Are:

 Patient: they can endure slights without resentment; second chances prevail. 

Selfless: they seek good for themselves, but not at your expense. 

Slow to Anger: they are not easily angered, or even easily exasperated.

Poor record keepers: if you wrong them and apologize, they accept and let it go.

Truthful: they are trustworthy because their hearts seek truth and justice for all.

Protective: they may speak to you of your faults, but will not gossip to others.

Hopeful: with clarity of vision, they look for positives, instead of dwelling on negatives.


    FRIENDSHIPS HAVE VALUE

True friends are not the dime-a-dozen variety. They're more like diamonds. I thought a few were diamonds in the rough when we first met. But, who knows, maybe they thought the same about me.

The proverb says “a friend loves at all times.” All times seems like a pretty big order, but it’s possible. Just make that a true, reliable, genuine friend---one without deceit or ulterior motives.

Have that friend and be that friend . . . you’ll both be covered.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Can't Stop the Rain


CAN’T STOP the RAIN


As a child growing up on Midwest plains, I was always happy when it rained. To my mother’s dismay, that also included stomping through muddle puddles. It was fine if I had on my rubber boots. But one rainy day created an indelible memory.

As a first grader, I was walking home from school when it started to rain. I was so happy at seeing a big muddy puddle, that I actually sat down in it. I had great fun splashing the water around . . . until mom saw me.

She was extremely upset and brought me inside the house. While changing clothes I got the clear message NOT to do that again! But mom used a real clincher to make her point. She sent me to bed without supper.

That was a first! Mud puddle fascination disappeared on my empty stomach. But it didn’t destroy my joy of rain.


More Rain


In adult years we moved to the coast of northwest Washington. As a newbie, I decided to enjoy a walk in light misty rain. Even with an umbrella I got chilled to the bone. I looked forward to home and a nice hot shower.

Here in northern Arizona, I’m presented with another type of rain. Flashes of lightning and pounding thunder are preludes to cloud bursts. I own umbrellas, but at this stage of life I prefer to wait it out. Cloudbursts are many, but they don’t last long.


A Rainy Day Song


I used to enjoy B.J. Thomas singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”* The melody and rhythm were catchy, though I never caught all the words.

I recently looked up the lyrics and enjoyed the story line. First, the guy acknowledges that annoying raindrops are falling on his head. Then he decides not to get the blues.

He doesn’t believe you can stop the rain by crying over it or complaining about it. So, he chooses to stay positive and believe for a happier (dry) day. With that attitude, he’s free to enjoy life in spite of the rain.


Rain . . . Now What?


I was thinking about the old platitude “into each life some rain must fall.” Rain seems to be a code for troubles, with many variations. Have you ever truly known a person who lives a totally trouble-free life?

Jesus even told his disciples they would have many trials and sorrows on earth. He also gave words of encouragement with no exclusions.

First, He said, Peace is available in Me.” Second, He said, “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33NLT). After being crucified, God raised Him from the dead on the third day. What could be more powerfully overcoming than that?

We can't stop the rain, no matter how it comes. But we can decide how to respond to it.




*Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Labels Are For Pickles


LABELS ARE FOR PICKLES*

I enjoy the taste of a good pickle and rarely meet one I don’t like. As a child I enjoyed going to our cellar for a jar of watermelon rind pickles or bread and butter chips.

We used to slice big home-canned pickles to liven up our sandwiches. Now I buy them already cut into slabs.

While living in central California, we were blessed with fresh fruits and vegetables from my husband’s mother. I blanched and froze appropriate items and tried my hand at canning peaches.

I even tried to can some pickles, but that experience was short-lived.

A Sticky Experience


Just as a friend from southern California arrived for a visit, I was cleaning up my kitchen. I had dropped a large glass pickle jar on my tiled counter. It broke and created a major sticky mess.

After cleaning my kitchen, I never gave another thought to canning pickles. I’m happy with store-bought varieties.

I discovered that some brands really live up to their publicity. That’s why I tend to buy labels in the pickle aisle, instead of the bargain of the week.

Labels of Another Kind


But labels remind me of another aspect of my childhood.

You could drive by most any church in town and tell from their signage if they were Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran . . . the list goes on.

These days it’s hard to find a church label because it has become popular to name a church in more general terms. I’m sure our town is not unique in the number of non-denominational labels and community church names.

Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” In my youthful years, I saw dad put that into practice by joining the ministerial association wherever he pastored.

Beyond the Label


I say dad taught me that labels are for pickles, not people, because he said, “You can always find a friend who loves Jesus. They don’t have to be only from your denomination.”

Thanks to dad, I enjoy friends with many different labels. Perhaps we agree to disagree on some points of doctrine, but our hearts are knit together in Christian love with God’s Word as our guide for living.

God has a great variety of people and cultures in His family Don't get stuck on man-made labels. If you do, you'll miss out on a variety of friendships that will enrich your life.

After all, labels are for pickles, not people. 

*The original story was published in my book REFLECTIONS: Inspirational Stories from Everyday Life (available from Booklocker.com). I shortened it for this blog.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

How to Give Some Respect


HOW TO GIVE SOME RESPECT

Whenever I think of the word respect, I can’t help but think of Rodney Dangerfield. He was the stand-up comedian whose catch phrase was “I don’t get no respect.” I used to see him on television variety and talk shows.

His self-deprecating humor about no respect hit upon everyday life. People could relate to his jokes about no luck, no breaks and no success. But in real life, don’t we desire just the opposite?

When something good happens unexpectedly, doesn’t it give us a lift? When a hoped-for opportunity opens up, we want to celebrate. But respect can be given in small doses and still make a big difference.

A Simple Way to Life Improvement


Giving respect improves our lives and our relationships. For example, scriptures tell us to give respect to parents, the elderly, employers, spiritual leaders and government officials.

The New Living Translation sums it up in two words, “Respect everyone” (I Peter 2:17a). The Message says, “Treat everyone you meet with dignity.”

Everyone? Yes, everyone . . . from the cradle to the grave . . . from one culture to another . . . but how?

The bottom line, to me, is this. When we have respect for another person, we value their worth as a human being. It then manifests itself in courteous consideration. We do not take them for granted or consider ourselves superior.

Personal Motivations


I try to give respect to all people, but I have to admit there are some who get extra attention. Sales associates, for example. You see, I’ve stood where they stand . . . on my feet for hours at a time, dealing with both pleasant and unpleasant customers.

That’s why I try to be extra patient with clerks who are trying their best in spite of long lines and difficult requests. I also make it a point to encourage any employee who is struggling because they are new on the job.

I also had years of part-time experience in janitorial service. I may never see the person who cleans the office I’m in, or the public facility I’m using, but I respect their work. I put magazines back where I got them. I wad up my paper towel and hit the basket. I press the handle to flush the toilet.

Respect for All


On the other hand, there are all kinds of jobs I have never experienced but for which I have great respect. Handymen and carpenters, for example. I try to give them words of appreciation along with their pay.

Respect shows up when you pay attention to people. It may sound simple, but instead of taking them for granted, show some appreciation by dealing with them in a courteous manner.

The opposite of respect is disrespect. It shows up as rudeness, scorn and lack of consideration.

Start Now


People in your presence should never be able to say, “I don’t get no respect.” You can be the one to help them avoid the Dangerfield complaint.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Small Miracles in Color and Design

SMALL MIRACLES in COLOR and DESIGN

I have a friend who enjoys photography like I do. When I moved from San Diego years ago we spent a day photographing our favorite places together. This water lily reminds me of Balboa Park.

She went on to study with the New York Institute of Photography and invested in some excellent equipment. I've always been in awe of her floral closeups. 

This week she sent me two CDs. When I called to thank her, I received permission to share these copyrighted photos with you.

I enjoy the elements of color and design in other parts of my world, architecture, for example. But the natural design in flowers is awesome. Scientists can spend a lifetime studying details, yet never have all the answers or explanations for what we see. 

I'm glad that in Creation, God gave us natural beauties to simply enjoy. We don't have to call each flower by name, though some people can do just that.

Look carefully at these photos and stop to consider God's wonders (Job 37:14). Flowers are fleeting, yet they are abundant in seemingly endless varieties. 

Years ago, I created a photo book for my friend and included some inspirational quotes. This one still matches my thoughts about flowers: God is as great in minuteness as He is magnitude.

Looking at her roses, I'm reminded of one sure thing. Life's petals unfold one day at a time but you can't sow human thistles and reap human roses. Since relationships grow from whatever you plant, scatter your seeds of kindness, enriching things as you go.

When you see photos like these it's not hard to understand the verse that says . . . not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed as one of these (Luke 12:27).
I hope you have enjoyed these small miracles in color and design. Stay alert. There are more to be seen in the world around you.