Tag Archives: friendship

Craving Connection book cover - (in)courage community

Finding Friendship as Adults {Book Review}

When we were young, it was so easy to go up to someone and make a friend, right?

“Hi, wanna play?”

“Sure!”

Boom. Friendship initiated.

Of course there were challenges, conflicts, and collapses, but some aspects of friendship were just easier. When you saw someone every day at school or every week at co-op or every week at art class, you could easily keep up with each other’s lives.

But as adults, it’s not as easy to go up to someone and ask, “Hey, wanna be friends?” (I’ve often considered it.) And the energy it takes to maintain a friendship seems to increase.

But friendship doesn’t become any less important. God made us to connect with others, encourage others, and grow together.

Many writers from the (in)courage community have come together to create a 30-devotion book full of thoughts on connection and adult friendship – Craving Connection (B&H Books, 2017).

Craving Connection book cover - (in)courage community

I remember when I first found (in)courage about five years ago, I felt welcomed. With several different writing styles, experiences, and voices, it could be a place for everyone without judgment and with godly encouragement — and relatable to real-life, which can sometimes be hard to find among devotions. Many of the contributing writers found in this book are the same names I’ve been reading since five years ago — some were blog writers then, some were readers conversing in the comments, and now they’re authors of their own books.

The thirty devotions, written by thirty different authors, share personal stories of friendship challenges and friendship successes and what God has shown them connection can mean in their lives and the lives of others.

The devotions are split into three main sub-sections:

  • Connecting with God More Deeply
  • Connecting with Friends More Purposefully
  • Connecting with Community More Intentionally

Each devotion starts with a focus verse (designed well in a sidebar box), an initial thought to consider, and an action step to create connections in your own life as you read. After the devotion, each ends with three connection questions, a prayer, and an action ‘challenge’ to take what you’re reading and apply it to real life. The book has lovely design aspects with border accents, sidebars, and quote highlights, which help make it a lovely gift book.

With thirty authors, there is definitely some diversity (racial/cultural, abilities, and a little bit of economic) in the book. I feel the book would be able to reach even more people if more diverse backgrounds were included. As a special needs mom, I’d love to see more stories that did touch on special needs go deeper and more opportunities in generally to really look through a window into other perspectives, other voices, and other life experiences. That said, most readers will be able to find aspects of life they can relate to and relate to well. (I did, too.) And you’ll never feel judged reading this book. Instead, you’ll read of ideas on remaining intentional in the hard but needed work of connected with others. You’ll see grace, see the value of connection, and see writers who are growing in life just as you are.

And that’s a gift. I’m thankful for the (in)courage community.

Want motivation to connect more?

(in)courage is hosting 5 weeks of Craving Connection Challenges, starting on February 7th! They’ll share an excerpt of the book and inspiration to complete the associated connection challenge. Read more over at (in)courage!

Craving Connection Challenges at (in)courage

What can you do to support a friendship today? What friendship or community are you thankful for today?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family! For Book of the Month, if you click my referral link and join, I receive a small bonus.

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Five Minute Friday: On Friends

It’s Five Minute Friday time around here again. And I’m so thankful to be joining back in! During these few weeks of blog issues, I have sincerely missed the challenge and community of Five Minute Fridays.


Five minutes to “just write without worrying if it’s just right or not” with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama. (No editing or backtracking!)

This week’s topic? On friends…

START.

It’s amazing when you look at Proverbs how important friends can be. The references in Proverbs cover a wide range of warnings and “tips” on finding true friends.

False friends may just seek personal gain.

But true friends can be more valuable than a brother.

Obviously friends are important. An encouragement. A beacon of truth for each of us.

Fellowship is found in friendship. I would go so far as to say that fellowship between friends deepens and strengthens that friendship bond.

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

True friends care. True friends speak true words even when they might be “tough love.” True friends hope with you when none else cling to hope.

I always claim I have trouble making friends. Forming acquaintances seem to be of little issue. But that deep, saturated, full friendship – that I long for. And God blesses me with a small handful of these friendships. (Truly a blessing.) And oh how this small handful fulfills and fills me. But these friends do so because they seek Christ. The love because Christ loves them. Not because I deserve it.

In fact, they love even though I don’t deserve it.


STOP.

Want to add your own five minute thoughts and read others’ amazing posts? Join in over at The Gypsy Mama!

Question for you: What are your thoughts on friends?

Five Minute Friday: On Friendship

I’m joining in on The Gypsy Mama’s Five-Minute Friday writing prompt again today. Here’s how Lisa-Jo explain these Five-Minute Fridays:

“On Fridays around here we stop, drop and write for five minutes straight.

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

No editing, no back-tracking, no pauses. Just words. This week, let’s focus on friendship.”

So, were we go!

Start:

Friends. I have trouble making them. I feel unsure of myself often. Occasionally I’m wary of becoming friends with certain people. But, through the few years I’ve had (in relation to all of time), I’m learning more and more about the immense value of friends, true friends.

A friend used to be one to “hang out with” every day after school. A friend used to be someone I could call up and meet for an hour on a whim.

Friendship has definitely changed. And, dare I say, evolved.

Husbands, kids, jobs, and commitments stop frequent meeting time with friends. But, that doesn’t mean that meeting time can’t be regular.

A friend or two immediately come to mind. These people share, love, laugh, empathize, and rebuke. These people inspire, encourage, guide, and maybe occasionally seek advice from me, too.

Proverbs 17:17a reminds me: “A friend loves at all times…” Love is shown through discipline and endurance, not matter the distance or time between meeting. Oh, to be a friend as He wants me to in return.

Stop.

Well, I feel like that five minutes wasn’t quite as smooth as before, but I sure enjoyed the writing practice and reflecting on friendship!

Outside of the five minutes, I’d like to share with you just a few more verses on friendship that inspire and remind me:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:12-15


Now come join in on the five-minute fun over at The Gypsy Mama’s site! There are some amazingly and beautifully written five minutes over there!

Book Review – Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid

Thirteen-year-old George McCray relates a story of growing up on his grandparents’ small dairy farm in Kansas in the novel Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid.  Most of the events in this novel (which is a prequel to A Dog Named Christmas) take place as a recalling of the second half of 1962, when George is in 6th grade and has recently lost his father in a tragic tractor accident.  Told from George’s point of view in past tense, George leads the reader through his realization that the events of life often break a lot of supposed rules, his family’s and his growth through the process, and the love and friendship received from his family, neighbors, and a beautiful red farm dog named Tucker.

The author describes feeling and characters’ relationship and thought processes very well.  Amazing descriptions abound in this novel that utilize all the sense and are written in such a way that evokes appropriately associated feelings from the reader.  (One example: “…its aroma…was a strong call to draw me out of bed, though I remained huddled in a cocoon of warm covers for a few more precious minutes” – page 31.)  This writing talent leads the reader to nod in agreement in certain parts, smile with joy in others, and feel the burden of loss and heavy nature of sadness in other parts.  The author also creates beautiful, unique images like “…clouds pass overhead like herds of galloping white stallions” (page 41).

Full of strong, loving, humorous, persevering, yet imperfect characters, Christmas with Tucker is a thoughtful page-turner that teaches lessons learned to the reader without being “hit-you-over-the-head” obvious.  The author teaches these lessons through a character’s example or through George’s reflection back on the times.  I particularly love some of the parenting tips I gleaned from the story.  George’s grandparents set a solid example of loving discipline and trust through the support and guidance they give to George. 

Questions for you: Though this novel does not outwardly discuss religion, it is considered inspirational fiction. What other novels do you know that show Christian values without externally advertising as such? What other Christmas novels or novels with animals do you love?



Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Gentle Example of Sisterhood in Christ

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25


I have a friend who probably would not consider herself to be such a model of Christ.  Such a bright, encouraging light in this needy world.  I have never heard her agree to any declaration that she is an example.  But she is.  She is because she opens her heart and gives her life to Christ so that His light and love pour out through her.


And that’s just the thing.  She will immediately tell you that it is not her, but Christ in her that makes her such a glorifying example.


My friend, though not without imperfections, is a devoted wife, a loving mother, a patient friend, and an encouraging believer.


She is so special to me, yet as I see her interact with all those around her, I realize that she is just that special (and more so) to everyone she meets.  My husband often hears me say how I would like to spend more time around her, but I fear that’s a selfish desire.  I want to spend more time around her because she is so encouraging, and I hope it’ll rub off on me.  I want to bless her in return, yet I can’t imagine how I could ever return her support.  Yet, again, she expects nothing in return.


When my beautiful, charming son was first born, he cried.  And didn’t sleep.  And cried more.  For five months, he cried often and slept little.  He struggled with nursing in his first two weeks.  He had slow weight gain for the first six months.  By God’s provision, he is thriving (and is full of energy and smiles now).  But I struggled.  I cried many of the times he did.  I ran on only two, three, or four hours of sleep each night.  I wailed out in the middle of the night, berating myself and labeling myself as “the worst mother ever.” 


In the midst of my struggles though, my friend came through.  She gave me tips on nursing.  She listened to me cry.  She prayed for me constantly, over the phone and in person.  She even came to hold my sweet baby boy to allow my husband and I to nap, even though she is a busy mother of four.  But the most important words she spoke to me during this time came during one of those nights full of my (and my son’s) wailing.  She said,


“Caroline, God chose you to be your son’s mother.”


My eyes still mist as I consider these words.  This statement will forever remain in my heart during tough times and happy times.  My friend was able to point out that God knows what He is doing, He will equip me in this journey of motherhood, and He has blessed me with this amazing boy, as well as this true friend.


My friend continues to set a godly example of a wife and mother through her wisdom in teaching her children, her patience with those of us full of faults, her love to her family.  She exemplifies faith in Christ by intentionally finding ways to bless others, giving advice to those who frequently come to her needed such, and consistently showering strangers with kindness.


She encourages my faith, perhaps unknowingly, in her gentle example of just living out her faith daily.  This blessing of a friend models this beautiful verse in 1 Peter:


the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:4b


I grew up not able to get along with many women; I found women to be critical, judgmental, and generally unable to connect with the oddities of my personality.  As I’ve grown, and especially since becoming a mother, I am learning more and more about the need for women to fellowship with one another.


Only as I continue to grow in Christ have I found out how powerful sisterhood in Christ can be.  Women who encourage you, guide you, support you, and unconditionally love you as Christ does are essential in this journey.


I am blessed to now be surrounded by so many sisters in Christ (both here in my town and here online!).


This special post today is part of Rachel Olsen’s monthly Devotional Carnival.  Visit her website and check it out!


Reflection verses:


“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:13


“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:10

Questions for you: How have you been affected by and grown because of sisters in Christ?  What verses come to mind when thinking of the importance of fellowship?