learning how to make friends

  Friendships have always been difficult for me.

 

I think it’s because I put too much pressure on them to be something. To meet some sort of expectation of what friendship is supposed to look like. Before I even meet with someone the first time, I hope she will become my BFF. Then, if there is any moment of awkwardness, I become dejected, and am tempted to throw the blossoming relationship out the window.

 

I set friendships up for failure before they even begin.

 

friendships are flowersIn the past few years I have begun to experience friendships for what they are, as they go along. I am valuing the layers, the back and forth of different roles we play in each other’s lives at different times.

 

We don’t have to figure out what a friendship will become in order to enjoy it for what it is.

 

So, I am learning to pursue relationships with people, without an end goal in mind. Just during goals. To love. To see. To value. To share experiences. To do life together.

 

Friendships are flowers, blooming in different seasons. Their varying hues and fullness do not subtract from their beauty. The diversity is what makes them magnificent.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: FRIEND. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to find and create a graphic to go with it. I can't resist. I love that part of the process.)

Unmet Expectations

My husband and I have loved being marriage mentors. Our old church had a program in which people who've been married for awhile paired with engaged couples. We met regularly in the months before the wedding and had intentional conversations to help them be prepared.

We found that it blessed us as much, if not more, than it blessed them. These conversations helped us think about what was important in marriage, too.

That's why I was excited to write a guest post today for Jane Caroline for her Marriage 101 Series. Her wedding is coming soon, and is looking for advice for herself and others who are about to embark on the marriage ride. Here's a snippet of what I had to say.

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s house?

I’m going to invite you to do just that. You are a fly on the wall of my kitchen, four years ago.

I am at the stove, stirring something in a pot. My toddler runs in and attaches himself to my leg. I look down, and tell him to go play in the other room. He doesn’t budge. He is much more interested in what Mommy is doing on the hot stove.

My body begins to get tense. I yell to another room.

“I need your help, honey.” No answer, so I raise my voice higher.

“What are you doing? I need your help in here.” Still no answer. So I shout his name. He comes into the room.

“Where were you?”

He looks surprised, “Downstairs, paying a bill.”

I roll my eyes. My voice becomes terse...

Read the rest on Jane Caroline.

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He knew

Anyone who knows me knows that I love conversation. I particularly love to hear how God is working in someone’s life. I am moved when I hear accounts of an active and loving God intersecting with a broken and hurting humanity. So today, I want to tell you a story from my life. This is the story of biblical truths moving from the knowledge of my brain to the recesses of my heart.

The story begins on a Monday, a little more than five years ago. I went in for a regular check up, 31 weeks into my first pregnancy. I felt fine, but the tests revealed that my body was not fine. I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia, affecting my blood pressure, my kidneys, and likely, the placenta. I was sent to the hospital. My mind was racing. My emotions were in turmoil. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go.

I had a lot of back and forth in the following days. To the hospital to get steroid shots that would help the baby’s lung development. Back home to follow the unclear instructions of “bed rest.” Back to the hospital with a skull-splintering headache. As I was monitored, sometimes things were fine. The baby’s heart rate was normal, and my blood pressure was high but not dangerous. Other times, the baby’s heart rate dropped, or my blood pressure spiked to life-threatening numbers.

So, on Sunday, six days after I went in for that regular check-up, eight weeks before my due date, the doctors induced labor. But then, another setback: the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction. Not knowing how long labor would take, a c-section was needed. They warned me of the risks. My pre-eclampsia had progressed into HELLP syndrome. I was in danger of having a seizure. I would have to be put on a magnesium sulfate IV for 24 hours after the surgery.

Still whirling with the emotions and reality of the situation, I asked my husband to remind me of the meanings of the names we had chosen. I wanted to feel like something was in our control. But then, he looked them up, and found that Cameron, the name at the top of our boy list, meant “bent nose.” I was annoyed. Really? It didn’t mean armor-bearer? Or child of God? Did we have time to pick a different name? Would anything go right? This felt like the last straw.

Just a little while later, a tiny 3 pound boy was born. A baby boy with a healthy set of lungs… and a bent nose. It appears that his hand had been pressed against his face in the womb.

After the birth, my husband followed the baby to the NICU, while I waited for post-op. As I lay there by myself, I started to weep. They were not tears of anxiety or anger or sadness. They were tears of joy. All I could think was, “Bent nose! Bent nose! His name is Cameron!”

My entire week had been filled with uncertainty. I didn’t know my birth experience would be this way. I didn’t know it would be full of complications. I didn’t know how it would turn out.

But God knew.

God knew this birth story before it happened. He knew my son would be born with a bent nose. He knew his name was Cameron.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  –Psalm 139:16

The next 24 hours are a blur. I went in and out of consciousness and nausea as the effects of the magnesium sulfate flowed through my body. But in the midst of it all, I had a peace that surpassed understanding. I knew that God was there in the NICU, watching over Cameron. And I knew He was there in the hospital room, watching over me.

Cameron spent 19 days in the NICU. There were many difficult times in those weeks, not the least of which was coming home from the hospital without my baby in my arms. But I learned about trust. I felt God’s presence. I understood God’s faithfulness.

So, as I celebrated Cameron’s birthday just a few days ago, I celebrated for more than one reason. I celebrated not only his life, but his birth, and how that birth changed me. His birthday is the anniversary of my heart being taken over by Psalm 46:1.

God is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in trouble.