Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011: My Family and My Friends

Day 7: My Family

I love my big family.  I have already mentioned how thankful I am for my husband and children, so in this post I am mainly focusing on our extended families.  My husband and I both have pretty big families.  I love that!  I also am thankful that we know our cousins and great-aunts and uncles (well most of them).

Funny enough we both come from a family of five.  He is the oldest, but I am the middle.  His family is four boys and one girl.  Mine is four girls and one boy.  I always get a kick out of that.

I am thankful for the family that raised my husband to be the great man he is.  We have a lot of fun together, and we always enjoy visits.  Unfortunately much of his family live far away from us, so we don't get to see them very often.  I am thankful for Skype and forms of social media that have helped us connect more regularly than before.  Too bad we can't all live in the same city - or the same state at least!  God has each of us where we are though, so I pray for plane ticket money.  I am also oh so thankful for how many of his family members love Jesus, too.  His grandma and grandpa have had a wonderful and profound influence, and we are very thankful for their legacy.

Thankfully we at least have most of my side of the family in the same state.  Although we don't get to spend as much time with them as we would like, it is great to be able to get together for holidays, birthdays, and occasional get-togethers.  We have a lot of fun, too.  I especially love when all of my siblings can get together.  We usually end up laughing a lot.  I have some witty siblings.

I love watching my parents play with my children.  It is a blessed thing to watch the very people who raised me love on the little ones I am raising.  It is also humbling, sobering, and overall lots of fun. 

I am so thankful for my parents who have always supported me even when they didn't always really understand why I wanted to do what I was doing or maybe even like what I was wanting to do - for example flying over the ocean a few times and even living in another country for a couple of months while in college.  They never let me just do whatever I wanted.  No, there needed to be reasonable evidence that it was a good idea, and they needed to know the details.  I appreciate that.  I think I always appreciated that even when I was young and sometimes annoyed about their authority.  I knew that not all parents protected their children like mine did.  That is very sad, but true.  It may be worse nowadays. 

I also thankful that my parents have been married for 33 years.  That is a blessing to all of us!  They have also always supported my marriage and made my husband feel a part of the family right from the beginning.  That is also a blessing!

My family extends pretty wide on both sides with so many cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th!), aunts and uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles, and one more beloved grandma for each side.  We have a variety of beliefs, traditions, personalities, professions, hobbies, and desires.  Even though there are many who believe differently than we do, we love them just the same.

I have always been taught to enjoy and be thankful for the family I have, and that took root deep within me.  I want to pray for them, encourage them, and invest in them for God's glory.  Thank You, LORD for my family!

Day 8: My Friends

This is actually a difficult post for me to write because many of our close friends no longer live near us.  I miss being able to see them anytime.  It takes time to build good, solid friendships and sometimes it's not easy to find families where the wives, the husbands, and the children connect well.

I don't believe I will name names here because I am afraid I may accidentally forget someone.  However the LORD has provided us with friends near and far who have been a great blessing to us.  Some of these friendships have grown apart over time.  Some of them have held steady even with distance between us.  Some are still in the process of building and taking shape into what He has in mind.  I am thankful for all of these because I believe that we can learn something from everyone we encounter.  Sometimes the lessons are big and sometimes they are small.  Still they remain important.  We can positively or negatively impact each person brought across our paths. 

I am also thankful for the friendships we have built within our church.  These friendships have become like family to us, and we love them and are thankful for them.  It is wonderful to have a place where you belong and where others can come and join the family, as well.  I love that.  Our church is such a welcoming place where truth is upheld and people are made to feel valued because God values them. 

I also am thankful for these friends in our church and in other churches who are ready to call me out on something that needs attention.  I am accountable to them, and I am thankful that I have good enough friends who are willing to share the truth in love because they love me.  We love others more when we speak the truth instead of just looking the other way or approving of everything the person does for fear of rejection or conflict.  Of course we need to learn from the LORD how to do this in a loving way, as well, instead of in a judgemental or condemning way (although many people may still mistake any confrontation as judgement or condemnation instead of loving truth).

Over the last few years of praying for good friends who are nearby and have similar convictions, interests, etc, the LORD has shown me that I need to be the kind of friend for which I am praying.  I want to invest more in others and take time to call or write or do something small that encourages others.  I still am longing for this balance and desire to honor the LORD in this way. 

I realize that this is not always easy and sometimes when building a friendship you realize that it just isn't going to work out.  That is okay.  I had to learn that long ago.  Not everyone wants to be my friend, just as there are people I won't feel connected to either.  As long as I am not operating in my flesh with this or out of fear or bitterness, etc, I just have to let that go sometimes.

Being in a new area now I have had to go out of my comfort zone and open my eyes to the people the LORD wants me to connect with here.  It's a little scary at times.  How much do I open up?  What questions can I ask them, so I am not doing all the talking?  Are they a safe person to build a relationship with?  Lord, please help me be patient through the process.

Good friends are so vital to life.  We all need them.  I pray the LORD has provided or will provide good close friends for you (of the same gender) to walk through life with and enjoy the many blessings that come from friendship.  Thank You, LORD for our friends!  May I be a good friend to those whom You have given to me to befriend, for Your glory and renown.

And let me know forget to thank the LORD for being the best friend I could ever have.  He not only made me His family when I surrendered my life to Him, but He also made me His friend.

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:19,20)

"I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15b)

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