Seasons Come and Seasons Go

Years ago, when I was a much younger woman there was a small group Christmas party I attended. We had a white elephant gift exchange where each person got to choose which package they wanted, including the one someone else just opened. There was a book that all the women were anxious to get called Seasons of Friendship. I think I may have ended up with it in the end but I believe it was read and shared. I seriously don’t know who wrote it or much of what it said. I only know that I’ve gone through many of those seasons of friendships.

And when you get to the end of a season of friendship, most times it ouches. Sometimes worse than others. And then sometimes it’s just a smooth transition.

A few years back, the church I was attending got a new associate pastor. He and his wife moved down and I was excited to meet his wife because we were close to the same age and I had just finished another one of those seasons. The problem was that her job kept her so busy that we didn’t get time to really know each other and then they were gone again.

Sometimes friends go through relational changes that have nothing to do with you, like marriages or divorces. Those changes tend to change the dynamics of friendships too. And, like the potential friend I spoke of earlier, some move away.

What I think is the most difficult of all is those who stay around but things in their lives change, situations come up and they are no longer available. Just when you think you’re developing something meaningful, everything gets put on hold. You don’t blame anyone for the unpleasant feelings. It’s just life. It happens that way.

And to be honest, I sometimes have a party when they’re gone. A great big party. A great big pity party. You, too? I wish seasons of friendship changed like the real seasons gently moving from one to another and back again. With beauty in all seasons, in all colors and shades.

The only way seasons of friendship could change like that is maybe if I renamed them. But they do reflect the seasons. There are some that are full of blooming things and fresh air much like a friend I had in college. She was in love with life and spread her joy around. You couldn’t help but want to be around her.

Some are sunny and intense like a summer day in the south. This one friend was a couple of years younger than I. We did so many fun, and funny, things together. But I moved on to marriage after college and we just lost touch.

Some are like watching leaves float to the ground. That would be my sister. Thankfully, we’re still friends. These are the ones you just like to spend time with, no matter what.

Some are still and quiet like fresh fallen snow. This brings to mind a friend who used to teach on the same campus as I. Although she was passionate about life and teaching and the kids, things were mostly low-keyed. She said what needed to be said in a way that was never boisterous. Then one year, she and her family moved away to other jobs. We stayed friends for a while but, as with others, distance makes things difficult.

Others are just like a hurricane blowing through and you don’t really know what things are going to look like when it’s over. One friend in particular shared a lot of laughs with me and we spent a lot of time together. Until we didn’t.

Some stay around longer than others. Some don’t last long at all. There are some that come back every once in a while, like a holiday.

But of all the friendships that I’ve lived through, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love all those who’ve come and gone. I love the ones that are still here. I am grateful for the two best friends I could ask for who are both now at a physical distance away or planning to be soon, but we are intentional about getting together for a girls’ trip at least once a year.

I am grateful for the two friends I’ve had since we were just babies. Yes, that’s a very long time and definitely a blessing. Although we’ve grown apart during the years, we still love and care about each other. We’ve all three gone through great losses the past couple of years and have cried with each other and held each other up with prayer and, sometimes, hospitality.

I have learned something from all of them and being with them has changed me into who I am today—better. You know how it is. Friendships teach you about life and love and what family is all about. And loving God.

I just hope that I, too, have passed something on to them to make them better people. And I hope they all know that I love them.

Sorry for such a long post. And SAPPY! I’ll try not to let that happen again. But it was something that’s been on my heart lately and I thought I’d share.

My daughter mentioned how difficult it is to find and keep friends as an adult. But the ones that remain friends are only there because you and they have been intentional about keeping the friendship alive. I’ve gotten through every season and I’m still going. Maybe that will be encouraging for you. And that would make this long post worthwhile.

A Road Through the Wilderness

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 CSB

Been in the wilderness or the desert lately? Feels hot, dry, desolate? No nourishment anywhere?

Have hope! Hope in this promise. He’s going to make a way in that wilderness for you to walk right on out. And that hot, dry, desolate place that sure looks like a desert and feels like a desert–He’s going to give you rivers there to quench your extreme thirst.

Do you see it? I can smell the water now! Can’t you? And look! There’s a pathway where someone has already traveled through it ahead of you. They made it out and so can you!

Put your hope in God. He’s already done it.

And having done all

This is the last in the series Preparing to put on the Whole Armor of God.

In a nutshell, Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on Christ. He is Truth. He is our Righteousness. He is our Peace. He is Faithful. He is our Salvation. He is the Word, the breath of God, that became flesh and dwelt among us. But you have to know Him first.

This week we’re going back to the beginning of the verses about the armor. 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-13

And having done all, STAND. The Greek word for stand: histemi, establish, to make a stand; in vs. 13a “withstand” is the Gr. word anti-histemi, to stand against, resist. I’m sure these words actually sound familiar, especially if you are allergy prone.

Stand your ground in the mindset that you will not be moved from what God has called you to be.

In 2 Samuel 23:9-11 and 1 Chronicles 11:12-14 is the story of one of David’s mighty men of valor. The man’s name was Eleazar and he was one of the top three mighty men. He was standing with King David in a field of barley preparing to fight the Philistines and “the men fled from the Philistines”. In verse 14 of 1 Chron. 11, it says,

“But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and killed the Philistines. And the LORD saved them by a great victory.”

We need to have that soldier mentality. “Look, this is what God wants me to be and I refuse to be anything else.”

Finally, pray in the Spirit always. For your church, your leaders, for those family members and friends who need to know who Christ is.

Thank you to Brad Gray and Walking the Text for your timely insight through videos on the Armor of God. You can find these videos on YouTube at Walking the Text – YouTube. Also, thank you to Dr. Tim Mackie and The Bible Project for the Ephesians course at Free Online Bible Study Courses | BibleProject™.

En garde!

This the the seventh post in the series Preparing to put on the Whole Armor of God.

The last of the armor we are to take up is the Sword of the Spirit.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor. 3:17

The Roman sword, the gladius, was made of steel, was two-edged, had a sharp point and was used for close combat.

012-christian-armour sword

In this depiction of the sword being part of the Armor of God, it is associated with the Spirit. The breath of God, Ruach. It means that we are to use the word of God to fight the enemy in close combat. These words are sometimes the rhema words given to us in the time of need or could be scriptures we have memorized. Jesus used this method of fighting when tempted in the wilderness by Satan. “It is written. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” “…it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matt 4:4, 7, 10)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12

The same weapon we use for our spiritual warfare, think of this, is the same one used in Revelation 19:15:

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sward, that with it He should strike the nations.

These questions seem to be for soldiers and for us, yes?

  • Is it sharpened?
  • Have I practiced using it and gained proficiency in wielding it?

Before a spiritual battle, we need to ask:

  • Do I read or listen to God’s word daily?
  • Am I studying the Bible for myself or am I relying on other people’s opinions to tell me what it says?
  • Have I hidden God’s word in my heart by memorizing it?
  • Do I speak the scriptures aloud daily so that my ears can hear them and so that His word gets down in my heart?
  • Do I write the scriptures?

Read.

Study.

Memorize.

Speak.

Write.

Daily is the key here. These things should be done daily. Get the Word into your heart. (See Ps. 119:11. No, really! Look it up!) Boy, my life knows when I’ve missed it. Seems like chaos.

Daily devotionals are good for a start. But I promise you, if you spend time really getting into the scriptures and looking up the meaning of words for yourself and finding out the true meaning of the verses, it will make the Bible come alive for you. Where are you going to find the time? Turn off the news. Plan ahead. Mark it on your to-do list but not just so you can check it off. It will enrich your whole life. Better yet, study with someone else. Can you make some family time studying and discussing scripture? What about time with your friend or a study group? Study on your own and then meet with someone once a week for discussion, whether it’s in person or on the phone or a video app.

“I’m too old to memorize anything.” That’s a lie. I had been wanting to memorize a certain set of scriptures for years. The first five verses of Psalm 103 were dear to me. I knew the first two by heart already because in my growing up years our pastor would end each service with everyone quoting them with him. Repetition. But I really wanted to learn the other three because I’d heard another minister in the same church say them. Well, I finally set down to do it. For a week I repeated the verses out loud everyday and I DID IT! I know them by heart. (You need to look those up, too! Ps. 103:1-5) By the way, your kids are not too young to memorize with you. My daughter could quote scripture before preschool. Just saying.

Best way to hear the Word is to either read it aloud or to get an app that will read it to you. The YouVersion app is great for that and some Bible versions on it have the audio. However you choose doesn’t matter. The doing it does.

The past two years as I’ve been learning how to study and research the scriptures, one of the things that has helped me the most is writing them. When I’m studying with a group we are usually going through a book of the Bible together one chapter at a time. My writing them goes through the whole gamut of learning styles. First I read a part of the verse aloud, then I write it down as I repeat it.

I just realized that I need to do a different blogpost on this. I’ll link it HERE–Writing the Word

This is NOT the final post of this series! There’s at least one more and I think, probably the most important. See you next week!