…Friend that You Wish to Have and Keep

Friendship Quote

As my husband and I have rejoiced over the new, wonderful season we’re walking into, many of our closest friends have in turn rejoiced with and for us. Recently, NS gifted us with a wonderfully, wise book; LM surprised me with a pretty bouquet of flowers in my favorite color; SH followed up with an Edible Arrangement that I didn’t know I needed in my life (until that moment); KS thought enough of us to speak such life and encouragement via text at the crack of dawn one morning; BS & VS have given their hearts and unending support; and amongst other caring gestures, we’re so thankful that countless friends have offered their prayers and extreme excitement (specific shout out to my CF for her shouts).

I’ve mentioned before that I have the greatest friends, here. In the last several weeks, their aforementioned expressions of love have reminded me of just that. It’s both funny and heart warming to think that just years ago, I actually prayed for genuine, ride or die and selfless friends. It was at a time that I felt as if a lot of those that I called friends didn’t have the same heart for me, and a time when I did not have any ‘true’ friends in my local vicinity. But, boy, has God answered in ways that have far exceeding my expectations. For lack of a better term, He weeded out the people who were less than the greatest influences with ease – just because I asked; He revealed to me the hearts of longterm friends and He gave me an amazing, new addition of friends – just because I asked.

All in all, I am grateful for my true, loving, lasting, fruitful relationships. And, as with each gift, comes the responsibility of stewarding over it well. To consistently be the friend that I wish to have and keep, is my goal, and to in turn, actively appreciate the gifts God has given me.

Some time ago, my college roomie, EE, shared with me practical ways that her Pastor encourages us to be the type of friend we’ve been called to be. These practices have influenced and blessed my life, and helped me to strive toward my goal. Therefore, as we ask and thank God for the meaningful relationships that we have, let’s be motivated to continually be the following kind of friend.

Note: These tips have been loosely adapted from the Pastor’s guidance.

  • Committed – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)
  • Confidential – A gossip can’t be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence. Proverbs 11:13 (MSG)
  • Honest – An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:5-6 (NLT); An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26 (NLT)
  • Edifying – Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
  • Enhancing – As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
  • Prayerful – …Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
  • ForgivingLove prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)
  • Loving & Selfless – There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NLT)

To each of my friends chosen family, you are literally an answer to my prayer. Thank you for exactly who you are and the role you play in my life. I pray that I am the friend to you, that you are to me. Love you mucho.

…Welcome Home

In less than two weeks, both my husband and my boo, SH, returned from their work and leisure travel, respectively. Each time my hubs comes back from a trip, I have some sort of surprise waiting for him — cookies, welcome signs, Jordan basketball shorts — you name it, he’s received it and will continue to (because he deserves it and because I’m ubber excited to have him back home).

It never matters how long or how short of a time period that he is away. I always miss him and I am always looking forward to his return. I’ll even be honest enough to share that I text him some days even when he’s just at work 30 minutes away, to let him know that I cannot take being apart from him in that moment and anticipate the instant we’re both together at home that evening #dramatic #mushball #completesap

When SH came back into my life last week, I felt that a missing piece to my day had finally been recovered. I was so happy to have her back and available to communicate anything and everything with. My gchat was complete; my iMessage was messaging a bit more. Frankly, my heart was full and my mushiness was running over!

The joy and love and warmth that I felt upon the return of people that I love, into my everyday life, reminded me and charged me to appreciate the joy that God feels upon our reconciliation back to Him.

He is patiently and lovingly awaiting our return to home, in Him – whether it’s from a long journey of life apart from His Lordship and salvation or a shorter trip back in daily repentance from sin. He cannot take us living apart from Him in any moment and anticipates the instant we’re together again. His invitation home is always open. And, the promises and gifts that He has waiting for us when we return are more than enough.

He gave us the following parable, among many, just to explain this simple truth:

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24

Who wouldn’t want to return to that? Be encouraged; be purposeful; and allow Him to welcome you back today. Home sweet home.

SM.

…Suitor

On Tuesday night, I had an odd, yet extremely vivid dream. At its climax, I woke up and immediately received revelation about the meaning of my dream. Then, I went right back to sleep! When I rose to start my morning routine, I decided to take a moment to journal about (yes, I used “journal” as a verb) my dream and seek more definition in it. Later in the day, I also solicited my discipleship leader’s interpretation. Her discernment revealed so much that made so much sense. The depth of confirmation, motivation and encouragement that was yielded through my dream was dumbfounding.

In the midst of all of that clarity, it warmed my heart to realize that God cares enough about me to speak to me, to encourage me, and to love on me during my REM sleep! He reminded me that He is literally with me 24/7 and is constantly, relentlessly pursuing me in each moment of my life.

By definition, He has proven to be my suitor; the One who is wholeheartedly pursuing an intimate relationship with me. He has made it clear that He has chosen me (John 15:16), and in turn He takes every opportunity and every circumstance (including my rest, my relationships with others, His creation of nature, etc.) to demonstrate His affection and His desire to relate to me.

And He’s so amazing that He pursues each of us with the same passion and fervor. He gave His very best, His son, just to be able to do so — to position Himself as our Suitor.

I dare us to reciprocate this Suitor’s love #swoon

SM.

…An Engagement Ring

One of my absolute closest friends aka. “bestie” got engaged this past weekend, and I am completely geeked about it. She doesn’t realize it (until now of course) that SH and I were actually working toward planning her entire wedding as soon as I figured out that the proposal was nearing. The joy that I feel for her and her fiancé is indescribable. I mean, I have been telling all of my friends about her engagement as if it is my own! And, to top off one of the most amazing proposals, her fiancé presented her with a beautiful engagement ring (not shown above, as I’d like to keep her as one of my absolute closest friends). If people didn’t realize it before, that rock on her finger makes it more than evident that she is taken; that she is a woman accounted for.

While engaged, another close friend of mine inquired, “what is the meaning behind wedding ring traditions”? In my pragmatically designed research aka. Google, I ran across the following:

“The neverending circle of a wedding band symbolizes eternal love by its lack of a beginning and an end…In 860 the Roman Catholic pope (Nicholas I) declared that an engagement ring was required of all those who intended to marry…the rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because ancient cultures believed that finger had a vein running straight to the heart…The wedding ring is the concrete sealing of the marriage pact.”

All that to say…an engagement ring appears to be symbolic of the desire and intent to wed, while a wedding band is indicative of the covenant made between husband and wife. When we spot a ring on the third finger of someone’s left hand, we are immediately aware of that person’s relationship status. Not sure if I sound crazy or not for admitting it, but I know that I sometimes check out a person’s left hand just to see what their deal is. Although it is extremely nosey, to me it seems a little less invasive (or less stalkerish, depending on how you take it) to stare at their hand than to ask the question.

As I broadcasted my friend’s engagement to the world throughout the week and gawked at pictures of her engagement ring, I remembered my own season of engagement and recognized that from the moment that first ring goes on your finger, people just know that there is something different about who you are…people realize that your status has officially changed (from single to engaged; and eventually from engaged to married). And that my dear friends caused me to ask myself, “Self, is it as easy for people to recognize that you have a relationship with Christ, as it is for them to recognize that you are married?“.When we submit our lives to Christ, His Word reassures us that our status officially changes from normal and of this world to unordinary and unlike this world, or [insert your initials here] version 2.0 (as my husband and I like to claim):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

In our newness, there should be radical changes and growth in our character — in the way we perceive; in the way we talk; in the way we relate to others; in the way we love others; in the way we love ourselves; in the way we work; etcetera. Inherently, the people you interact with will just know that there is something different about who you are. People will recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and benefit from all that He is producing through you:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control… Galatians 5:22-23

Have you said “yes” to Christ’s proposal to be in a sold-out, committed relationship with Him? If so, how are you making it apparent to those around you? What ring/new character are you wearing and displaying for everyone to see?

Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. 1 John 2:6 (The Message Version)

If you have yet to accept His proposal, and want to know how to, please feel free leave a comment or an email to shekea@jesusbea.com. I would love to chat with you.

SM.

…Catch

SH and I were recently chatting with each other, swooning over the men in our lives that God has gifted us (again). We also swapped a few stories of friends lovingly proclaiming and confirming that we’ve “got a great catch”. While we agreed that our boos are the greatest boos ever, in our respective worlds, we also wondered “what are we, chopped liver?!“.

Our conversation reminded me that in the world of speed dating, eHarmony, Match.com, etcetera, we seem to always be in search for the peanut butter to our jelly. Even after we make a commitment, one to another, the question “are they really my best match?” may even linger in our minds. We seem to be in a fixed pursuit of finding (or changing someone into) the best/better compliment, or looking for every quick-fix way to make ourselves the perfect verse to go over someone else’s tight beat. Yes, I recently watched Brown Sugar for the millionth time…please don’t judge me.

The reality is, we’ve actually been created to be in constant pursuit of Christ first and foremost; to seek relationship with Him and to grow in His likeness. With this charge, He even provides a 100% (no money back) guarantee, in James 4:8, in that He will reciprocate all of our efforts – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s a promise that as we seek Him with all of our heart, He will continue to go all in to have a meaningful relationship with us!

As we follow after Him and grow in our relationship with Him, we will grow to be more like Him, “for it is God who works in [us] to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). In being more like Him, it will make us realize the value in ourselves as individuals and the value we may/do bring to a team of 3 (1+1=3). And doesn’t that, by default, make us a hotter commodity (aka a great catch)?

So…why not expend our energy chasing after the Ultimate Catch? To me, it’s a win-win opportunity — to have our efforts reciprocated; to be redeemed by the greatest love relationship; and to grow in our capacity to love and be loved by others. Let’s seek Him each and every day — after all, He wants to be a catch!

SM.

P.S. SH and I understand that we’re nothing close to chopped liver. Whew! As our relationship with Christ continues to deepen, He helps us to see ourselves as He sees us (JBA contact lens!). Our prayer is that you recognize more and more of your true value, in Him, daily. Press play & please be encouraged!