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Frankness about Friendship

Here are a few thoughts about something precious to me that can sometimes evoke feelings of sadness or inadequacy.  Friendship.  How much do we need?  How much do I want?  How well do I do it?

According to Facebook, I have 381 friends.  I could probably list another 100+ people who I refer to as friends, people I like and have spent time with, but have not connected with on social media.  My relationship with most of these folks meets this definition of friendship from Merriam-Webster, “a friendly feeling or attitude”.  But check out this definition from Urban Dictionary , which includes the statements that friendship is “much underrated in our society” and sums it up this way: ” A friendship can best be thought of as two people side by side looking forward toward a common goal”.

My own definition would include these benefits of friendship:  being known and accepted, sharing common experiences and trials, support you can count on, enjoyment and laughter.  The length of the relationship is not  as important as the depth.  However, I have great appreciation for those friends who have known me for most of my life.  I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through school – First Grade through College – without a few close friends!  With one reliable friend who sees the world as you do, anyone can face difficult days.

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But we fail each other.  As a kid, my neighbor and I fought to be the best friend of a third girl.  Our human hearts can produce envy or selfish ambition that results in broken relationships.  Some of my saddest times have come from growing close to someone only to watch them move away, or finding myself leaving them for the next stage in my life.  It’s risky.

As a person who loves people, but also values time alone, I admit to being  guarded in new relationships if I think that the other person may want more interaction than I desire.  And then there’s the sadness/guilt I feel about how infrequently I talk to or see some of my dearest friends who live a  hundred or a thousand miles away.  Thankfully, those relationships have the depth to last, and eventually one of us picks up the phone.  Plus, we are able to share joys, concerns and even prayers for each other through the wonders of the internet.

After contemplating this topic for a few days, I realize that most of the joy I have in friendship comes from one of these three relationships.

  1. My husband of 32 years is my best friend. (I feel that I can say that without offending other friends.)  I was surprised when the first thing he offered me as we got to know each other was friendship.  The time we spend together each day means more than I can express .
  2. In the words of Michael W. Smith, “friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”.  There truly is a special bond within the family of God that allows for depth of love whether we’ve known each other for a long or short time.
  3. I have to acknowledge that if all of the relationships I’ve mentioned ended, I would still have my eternal friend, God.  If you know him, you understand.  If you don’t understand, allow me to express how my life changed when my friendship with God began.  When I only knew about God, no matter how well things were going in my life, there was always a feeling of insecurity, a sense that something wasn’t right; something was missing.  With him in the center of my life, no matter how difficult or frustrating it gets, there is always a deep sense that it is well with my soul, that there is no need to fear;  I am loved.

 

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6 Ways to Energize Your Marriage

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I just don’t understand why my husband doesn’t (insert pet peeve here)!” or asking “How in the world did we get to such a crazy place in our marriage?”  Earlier this month, I led another group of wives through the video-based marriage course called “Respectfully Yours”.  There are two main reasons why I keep on offering to do this.  The first is that I can’t get enough of helping women gain insight into a very common reason for marital tension.  Secondly, as I keep on leading, I also keep on personally taking in this effective and encouraging teaching from Love and Respect Ministries.  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, his wife Sarah, and their daughter Joy, present a challenging message to wives.  Those of us who have ears to hear it learn something very important about men and about ourselves.  And when we accept the challenge given, we find our marriages energized!

Here’s a crash course.  Research has revealed that if a marriage includes two things – love and respect – it has a great chance of lasting.  Husbands and wives need both of these elements.  But during a conflict, most women identify as feeling unloved, while most men feel disrespected.  What makes it CRAZY is that when she feels unloved, she negatively reacts in a way that feels disrespectful to him.  And when he feels disrespected, he negatively reacts in a way that feels unloving to her.

At this point, I want so badly to share all the things I have learned during a dozen times through “Respectfully Yours”, but this is a crash course entitled “A Different Approach.”  So here it is.

I’ll identify 3 things a wife can do to keep from unintentionally showing disrespect to her husband.

  1. Recognize that men and women are different by design.  Don’t blame him for not always understanding or dismiss him as uninterested in resolving issues.
  2. Be careful to say what you need to say with respectful words, tone, and facial expression at a time when both of you are calm.  Remember “It’s not what you say.  It’s how you say it.”
  3. Resist the temptation to point out his flaws or failures in front of your kids, parents, relatives, and friends.

Oh, how I want to keep going, but I’ll move on to 3 practical, proactive, and possibly surprising  things you can do as a wife to meet your husband’s need for respect.

  1. Be friendly!  Sadly, many husbands feel like their wives don’t like them.  Greet him at the door to show him you’re glad he’s home.  Smile more!
  2. Show how much you appreciate him by saying thank you.
  3. Recognize that while women love face-to-face talking, men often enjoy what Dr. Eggerichs calls shoulder-to-shoulder communication.  Just hang out with him while he’s working on a project or hobby and keep talking to a minimum.

Once again, I have to make myself stop at three suggestions, but if you give this different approach a try,  you may very well find your husband energized and your marriage moving in a positive direction.

If you want to know more about the effect of love and respect in marriage, please check out the free content (blog posts, videos, podcast episodes) on the ministry’s website.   You’ll also find downloadable content and books for purchase.  Perhaps I’ll see you in a future “Respectfully Yours” class.  That would truly make my joy complete.

“Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ”

 

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THREE GOOD MEN – PART 1

I have been the only female in my household for all of my adult life.  Despite the wishful thinking that I would be a mother of girls, my husband and I are parents of two sons.  But, don’t feel sorry for me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those who know me well have heard me talk, and possibly brag a little, about my boys who have both become very honorable men.  Well, this proud mom has decided to put in writing a few of my favorite things about each one, as well as their amazing father.  Three good men.

Choosing to honor each man on his birthday, I begin with the one I have known for the least amount of time.  My younger son, Kyle, will turn 27 in a few days.   When I think of Kyle, it makes me smile.  And when we’re together, I’m almost guaranteed to end up laughing.  I treasure the nickname his Grandpa Frisch bestowed upon him – “Smiley”.  Kyle has always smiled not just with his mouth, but with his “really cool eyes”.  His optometrist called them that, and he knows eyes!

I find Kyle’s sense of humor to also be really cool.  In a quick search, I found a list of 20 different kinds of humor.  I have heard Kyle say that his is self-deprecating and that he likes slapstick/physical comedy and satire.  Reviewing the list, I think he would include screwball humor.  What I find admirable is that my son does not appreciate off-color/blue, dark, mordant, or juvenile/sophomoric comedy.  This is, unfortunately, what is so often used in today’s entertainment.  I’ve often seen those eyes roll in the movie theater when potty humor brings giggles from the kids.

This good man has a keen interest in children’s entertainment, believing that kids deserve the very best, and finding it frustrating that excellence is not the norm.  He is a fan of Jim Henson, Walt Disney and Phil Vischer and loves to perform his own hand-made puppets for kids and adults, making our family reunions unique and joyful.

Kyle is a gift-giver.  He has been known to bring a treat to his co-workers when stress is high or morale is low.  Using his God-given creative talent, he creates greeting cards, caricatures, and carefully crafted models of favorite characters for people he loves.  His purpose in life is to bring joy to others, and I am a lucky recipient.

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Kyle is compassionate.  Not wanting anyone to feel bad, I have known him to purposely lose a game!  Strangers also benefit from his caring.  A favorite annual activity is purchasing items for a Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoe box.  Compassion can be intense.  On the day fifteen years ago when the World Trade Towers fell, Kyle was in middle school watching the day’s events on TV.  Later he told me with tears that his thought was, “What if you were running with a friend from that huge cloud of dust and you got separated and never saw them again?”

My admiration is deepest when it comes to the serious side of my son.  He is honest, hardworking, and full of faith.  Kyle is able to quietly observe situations and wisely analyze motives and moral questions.  He, more that most people I know, recognizes our Good Father’s work in his life and trusts God for guidance.

Happy Birthday, Kyle!  I hope your day is full of smiles!

Me

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A Short Post About a Short Poem

While visiting North Dakota this summer, I purchased a book called “Words of Wisdom from the Wise Old Owls of North Dakota”.  Author Sara Widdel Beaudrie has compiled and published stories and poetry from many senior residents of her state.  I was in the gift shop of the zoo in Minot when the book caught my eye.  As I always do, I opened to a random page and began reading what has become a favorite poem.  The 90 year old lady who submitted the poem could not identify the author, however I have been able to track the writing to Evangeline Paterson, a 20th century poet from Ireland.  I hope it blesses you as it has me.

I used to think   —   loving life so greatly   —
That to die would be like leaving a party
Before the end.
Now I know that the party is really happening
Somewhere else;
That the light and the music   —
Escaping in snatches to make the pulse beat and the tempo quicken   —
Come from a long way away.
And I know too that when I get there
The music will never end.

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