Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecc. 4:9-12).
I have been thankful for connections lately. So many connections to be thankful for, really. This morning I was sorting yesterday’s mail and found an update on our two sponsored boys at Compassion International. Reading about the living conditions in India and in Colombia always brings tears to my eyes. My last letter from Rajendra, in India, asked that we pray for rain in his village (their water shortage is making bathing and household cleaning difficult). Alvaro, in Colombia, is failing 2 subjects in school and his parents have been oversleeping, so he misses going to church…Lord, thank you for Compassion International and the way they bring Your hope to sad places. More tears, just thinking of these precious boys…their letters to me are so sweet…
I am thankful too for meeting some new blogger friends. After blogging in relative isolation for two years, all my fervent prayers have been answered, at once. I have been asked to be a contributor for a new online ministry called A Woman Inspired. This amazing opportunity answers both my prayer requests: (1) for fellowship and encouragement from other bloggers and (2) for mentoring from super computer-saavy gals! A writing connection with Encouragement Cafe has “introduced” me to more bloggers who really live up to the “Encouragement” part of the name. And I am going back to the Proverbs 31 Ministries SheSpeaks 2013 conference in a month, where I will connect with many of these ladies and see another great friend I met last year, Dawn. What a contrast to SheSpeaks 2012, when I went, heart in my throat, knowing not a soul…
But here in Arizona, what we have found in abundance is Christian family fellowship. Having yearned for this, for literally years, I am still humbly grateful, daily. And I got to thinking about how we make connections… about how we go about “finding” Christian friends for us and our families.
When my kids were little, I had two ways of connecting with others moms. Not connecting at all, or connecting with the moms of my kiddos’ friends. Sometimes, this was an unexpected blessing, like when Kelly invited me over, to get our two girls together, and she became a special friend to me…she still is! The Lord sustained me through leaner times with the kindnesses of Kelly, and Paula and Debi…all of them have nurtured me from a distance.
My husband, like most men, does not have time to devote to developing new friendships. His connections are usually at work, and so they are rarely with Christian men. With military moves, this has made our family the main place of Christian fellowship, which is a good thing. But, we have learned to prize the Christian friendships between families where everyone in the family has a connection. In the past, we have only had brief (and precious) glimpses of this.
But here in Arizona, He has opened the floodgates. What is the difference? I could tell you that it was because I found the “right” homeschool group. I could say we chose the “right” church. And I could say that my prayers, the cries of my heart, were heard. But the truth is, it is God’s timing. It is His blessing, at this time, that I am enjoying. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:15-16).
And I see these people…and this is what I constantly tell my children…these people are gifts. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17).
And I am even thankful now for all those painful and lonely times, because this time of plenty is so much sweeter, due to the times of emptiness. I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil 4:11-13).
What I have learned from moving around, and having to make new friends regularly, is:
- to be thankful to the Lord for His companionship when times of Christian fellowship are lean
- to “keep” your keepers…making the effort to stay in touch with close friends, even when they are not geographically close
- to accept all people as God’s perfect gift for you, even though these gifts come in the form of imperfect people
- to know that the seasons of life fluctuate, so the difficult loneliness will pass, and the abundance of friendships will pass. He has called me to live right where I am, and be grateful for the place that He has me
More on how our friendships can feed our families next Friday! For now, tell me: are you in a season of plenty or a season of want?