Category Archives: Friendship

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

A Letter to My Teenage Niece on Unhealthy Friendships

Why are teen and preteen friendships so hard sometimes? Especially with girls. I know young girls who insist on remaining in unhealthy friendships that aren’t good for them. They stay friends with people who hurt them on a regular basis, over and over. Hey, I’ve BEEN that girl! Sadly, this wasn’t just as a teen either!

I currently know a few young girls who are struggling with healthy boundaries in friendships. My precious niece has given me permission to publish a letter of advice and perspective to her in hopes that others may benefit in their own friendships as well.

Dear sweet niece,

I’m so sorry that you’ve been having a hard time in some of your friendships lately. It breaks my heart to see you get hurt. Sometimes I wish I could let a few of those girls have a piece of my mind. On the other hand, there are times when I want to scream at you too for letting them treat you this way! Then I remember that I’ve been where you stand, even in my adult years. So, I get it.

But why do we continue to endure these harm-inflicting relationships? It’s because we don’t want to be alone. We’d rather be with people who, deep inside, we know aren’t good for us, than to fathom the pangs of loneliness. The problem is…we’re still lonely.

I mentioned a quote in a blog post that I wrote a while back… “There’s only one thing worse than being single and lonely.  It’s being married and lonely.” The quote referenced being married versus being single. However, this can pertain to unhealthy friendships too. Just like marriage doesn’t exempt us from feelings of loneliness, neither do friendships. Booker T. Washington once said, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” 

I’d like to give you a little bit of advice from my perspective about what I’ve learned and what God has shown me about some unhealthy friendships.

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Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

Gathering Different Kinds of Souvenirs

I recently took a short trip out to Charleston, South Carolina to spend some time with a couple of my best college friends. Charleston is GORGEOUS! Honestly, traveling is one of my most favorite things to do in the world. This is especially true when traveling to places saturated with rich history and culture. I love going and doing and seeing and learning.

Gathering souvenirs

Kiawah Island

This visit was a bit more casual, which was nice and refreshing. Oh, we still did a couple of touristy things, but for the most part we just took it easy. We walked along the beach one afternoon and chatted. We spent a day doing some antique shopping, convinced that antiques in Charleston SURELY must be older and cooler than those in Oklahoma! 😉 Then we also visited a plantation taking our time learning about the history of the area. However, most of my time was spent just visiting and catching up with my friends of 20+ years.

Different kinds of souvenirs

Typically I love picking up souvenirs along the way from my travels, just little things to commemorate my trip. This trip my short list of tangible souvenirs included a few shells and sand dollars picked up on the beach, a print of the Angel Oak Tree from a local artist, a skeleton key given to me by a lady in an antique shop, and some spices purchased at The Tomato Shed Café so I could recreate the amazing Tomato Shed Shrimp at home.

A souvenir is a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event. It is French for “to remember” or “to come to mind”. So I guess technically souvenirs don’t necessarily have to be physical items. They just have to be something that serves as a reminder. For this trip then, I received a different kind of souvenir. My most precious souvenirs are my memories…those of quality time spent with my friends, but also those of some of the interesting people I met along the way.

Frank, the Angel Oak artist Continue reading

Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

Who is on Your Cabinet of Advisers? Do you have people you go to for advice, counsel, prayer, etc.? We all need reliable, honest people on our team to call on when we need.

Who is on Your “Cabinet” of Advisers?

We are starting a new era with a new President this week in the United States. The role of President is a pretty powerful role. However, to think that one possesses all of the knowledge, wisdom and power in oneself to live and make decisions without relying on the wisdom and help of others is foolish. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. President uses a Cabinet, a special group of advisers.

Article II, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution states that the President “may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articleii). To build the Cabinet, the President nominates heads of federal executive departments such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, etc. Nominees are approved or confirmed by the Senate.

We need a Cabinet too

Just like it would be unwise for the President to think he needs no one, it would be foolish for us to try to do life alone. Especially when making big decisions, it’s always a good idea to consult others. Therefore, similar to the President, we too need a Cabinet of advisers. We need people in our lives that we can go to for their opinion on certain matters.

It’s not good to do life alone

God designed us as relational beings—we were NOT meant to do life alone!

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)

Jesus was led alone to the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1). We are tempted more when alone. 

It’s wise to seek advice

When we don’t know what to do, Continue reading

Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective...

Why Christians Get Offended When Jesus Gets Attacked

Recently in my college classes we discussed diversity issues and how they can affect us in college and in life. One of the exercises we do in class is called “Examining Your Own Prejudices”. It involves each student taking an index card and anonymously writing a couple of sentences about a group of people that they have the most difficulty with. I then read each of the cards aloud, and we have a class discussion about them. We talk about where these prejudices come from, how to prevent stereotyping an entire group based on them, how to work with groups with which we have difficulties, and so on.

It’s usually a pretty controversial, yet enlightening exercise. It never fails…in each class I’ve taught there is usually a card mentioning a problem that someone has with Atheists (or non-Christians). There’s also a card or two listing Christians as the problem group. These two types of cards have a tendency to bring on the most discussion, sometimes heated. It’s often because Christians get offended and hurt by some of what’s said.

This past week, I tried to convey to one of my classes why Christians get offended sometimes, at least from my perspective. I wanted to share a little insight about why this might get so heated from a Christian perspective, and why we get so hurt when people speak badly of Jesus. I shared with them a note I had typed into my phone a while back.

Imagine a friend showing up at the worst time of your life

Imagine that you go through the hardest time of your life. You end up meeting this friend, Continue reading

Help From God Might Come As Help From Others

Help From God Might Come As Help From Others

Help From God Might Come As Help From Others

To wrap up our recent talks about “help”, I thought I’d leave you with a reminder. Help from God might come as help from others. So often many of us pray to God for help, and for some reason we get these ideas of how that help will appear. We think God will somehow miraculously intervene. We think that God might empower and strengthen us to handle situations on our own. It doesn’t always come the way we imagine though. Occasionally, it’s much more humbling than we imagine.

Our prayers for help may come in the form of help from others. Frequently we may find ourselves having to admit that we need other people to help fix things we are dealing with or going through. Our gut reaction may be to decline that help because we trick ourselves into believing that we are somehow “less” if we accept help from others. However, we may be refusing God’s help when we don’t accept help from others that He may have sent on our behalf. 

It reminds me of a fable or parable I heard years ago… 

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You Rob People When You Refuse To Accept Help

You Rob People When You Refuse To Accept Help. See how...

You Rob People When You Refuse To Accept Help

We talked previously about refusing to accept help and how that reveals pride. There are some other disadvantages when we don’t accept help though. In addition to showing pride, refusing to accept help might actually be robbing people of lessons, blessings, and love when we decline their help.

Don’t you try to rob me of my blessing!

I still remember a lady on the news many years ago during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was displaced and staying in Oklahoma. The news was interviewing some of the hurricane victims, and her interview has always stuck out to me. They were telling her story of giving money to a local church. Apparently the church tried to refuse her money. That’s when I giggled at her unyielding response. She said she told them, “Don’t you try to rob me of my blessing!”

What a perspective. She knew the laws of reaping and sowing. She knew that her small gift of monetary help, even in her time of need, would yield a blessing in return. In her eyes, anyone refusing to accept help from her was actually hurting her not helping her.

Robbing others AND ourselves of lessons and blessings

Someone’s offer for help may be them trying to love their neighbor. This is what Eric was doing when he offered to help the man at Lowes (story in previous post). When we refuse to accept help offered to us, we might be denying others the opportunity to obey God’s call to help. God commands us to help those around us.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NLT)

“Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (HCSB)

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”” Luke 10:27 (NIV)

By someone offering to help, they are learning to love as God loves…by giving…by being unselfish. We shouldn’t rob somebody of Continue reading

Ask for Help. Accept Help.

Ask for Help. Accept Help.

Ask for Help. Accept Help.

I was just thinking the other day about how so many of us are hesitant to ask for help. Sometimes, we are also reluctant to accept help when offered. I got to thinking…I don’t think God wants us to be this way. Really, this is just being prideful, especially if it’s a pattern or natural tendency.

The man at Lowe’s said “no”

Earlier this summer, Eric and I had gone to Lowes to look at some plants. As we were walking through the parking lot, we noticed an elderly gentleman that was loading a huge stack of concrete paving stones into the back of a van. He looked like he was struggling a bit.

This was right around the time of when God was really impressing on me to “love your neighbor”. So, I was getting ready to tell Eric that he should offer to help the guy, but he beat me to it. [insert proud wife smiley face 🙂] However, the man refused Eric’s help. Twice. Eric offered a second time saying, “Are you sure?” Nope. “I’ve got it,” was his response. It was evident he was not going to ask for help nor accept help.

It made me kind of sad too, because I thought to myself, “We are just trying to obey God and love our neighbor. Why won’t he let us?” I told Eric, “Well, maybe he knows he’ll have to unload it at home by himself anyway. So he’s thinking he might as well do it now too.” Eric said, “Even more reason to accept help now.” I praised Eric for offering to help anyway.

Refusal to ask for help or accept help reveals pride

Later, I realized that to ask for help or to accept help can be a hit on our pride. It’s like we think we’re not enough somehow if we have to rely on others. What a lie. But we believe it. That’s why we so often say Continue reading

Be An Encourager…Make More Positive Comments

Be An Encourager…Make More Positive Comments

Be An Encourager…Make More Positive Comments

Lately we’ve been discussing some of the downside of communication with others.  Negative communication is often inevitable so we talked about how to avoid making negative comments and how to respond to critical and sometimes hurtful communication when we are on the receiving end.  On the flip side though, not only is it important to avoid making damaging comments, but it’s valuable to go the extra mile to make positive comments and to point out the good in situations.

I recently completed a six-part series of devotions on my YouVersion bible app that was based on the Stay Positive series by Pastor Craig Groeschel, the Senior Pastor at Life Church.  Something that Pastor Groeschel said really stood out to me (which was an indicator that it was something that I need to work on).  He said if you think something good, you should say it and that you should never rob somebody else from a blessing.  He said we should be a tool of God to be a voice of encouragement to other people on a daily basis.  His advice was that anytime we think something good about somebody else we should turn it into a gift of encouragement.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) 

In fact, God himself is an encourager.  We need to be like God and be encouragers too!  When we encourage others, we are showing and being a little part of God to somebody else…somebody who may really need it.

“But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.” 2 Corinthians 7:6 (NLT)

I often think good things about other people, but I’m not always the best at vocalizing with positive comments.  So after Pastor Groeschel’s advice, Continue reading