Lifetime Friends

friends“And friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.  And a friend will not say never if the welcome will not end. Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know, That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”

Ahh yes, the hit song by Michael W. Smith called “Friends.” I woke up the other day with that song stuck in my head for some odd reason. I haven’t heard it in years. But it did bring back memories when I was a camper and counselor at Kanakuk Kamps, one of the country’s premiere Christian sports camp. http://kanakuk.com. The last day of camp they would show a picture slideshow of the entire term with music being played in the background and the final song being “Friends.” During the term, you would participate in a wide variety of activities from basketball and baseball to rock climbing and white water rafting, learn about God, and at the same time get to know and bond with kids your age and counselors from around the country and world, creating great friendships. I spent six years as a camper and four years as a counselor and had some of my greatest memories during these years. Regretfully, I lost touch with all my camp friends except one who I still talk to and even see today. Those were friends for a season of my life.

Everyone needs friends. Friends are how you are defined as a person. Friends are there for you when times are tough and during the joyful times. They are there for you when you need someone to talk to and even know some of your deepest secrets. Friends show patience with you and are kind, trusting, and caring. They always speak the truth and will never let you down. And most importantly they show love, no matter the circumstances. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” I’ve lost friendships with some great people in the past few years. I would give anything to have them in my life again, but I know they have to forgive me first, they have to be willing to give me another chance, they have to accept me, warts and all. I pray God moves in their lives because I really need you to do that.  You know who you are…..please forgive me for hurting  you and disappointing you.

I’ve also had the privilege of being blessed with three of my best friends that go all the way back to my pre-school days – Mark and Kurt, and in third grade Joel became our friend. I’ve known them for 30 years and 26 years, respectively. To this day I still talk and even hang out with them when I’m around. The memories that have been created and etched in my mind are ones I’ll never forget – from sleepovers to basketball games to cabin trips to the Black River to their weddings to the birth of their children. There are few things that I do not know about them and they about me. We’ve been thought it all together. Most of all I am thankful that they are even here for me while I’m in prison. They have never abandoned me when I needed them the most. Of course, they were disappointed in my choices, but they are forgiving and will still be there for me when I get out. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The four of us have definitely sharpened one another, molded, and transformed each other into who we are today. They are friends for a lifetime.

Oh, yes…..you may have hundreds even a thousand “friends” on Facebook. But how many of you have friends that go back to childhood? Or how many of you have friends that you can tell anything to, that you trust and care deeply about? How many of you have lost friends due to lack of communication or busy schedules? With technology today it’s not too late to rekindle some of those friendships. Friends are important. Even Jesus had great friends. And He wants you to develop and keep long lasting friendships. The last line of the song, “Friends” says it best: “That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVWrwVW3vQY Life is too short. Don’t miss those opportunities to hang and talk with your friends. Cherish those moments and create lasting memories. We need those relationships in our lives. Let your friends know how important they are to you. I’m thankful that God has blessed me with such great friends……friends of all ages and stages of life who care about me and support me, especially where I am today.  You know who you are! Thank YOU for being in my life and being my friend.

 

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The Blessing Jar

Blessings jarAs a kid growing up my family had a blessing jar. A blessing jar was an oversized jar filled with little pieces of paper that had thank -yous and blessings scribbled on them. Each Thanksgiving day myfamily would sit down and read the hundreds of blessings that had accumulated throughout the past year. Of course, my mom was the one who contributed most of the notes, but even as a child I remember writing and placing my thank you in the blessing jar. “Thank you for the A on my science test.” “Thank you for the points I scored in basketball.” “Thank you for the day with Grandpa.” Reading each of them brought back memories and smiles from the entire year and was a great way to start off our Thanksgiving Day (after going to church, of course!). It was important to take the time to thank God for all the blessings He had surrounded us with, even the very simple thank-yous of a child.

How often do you thank God? Do you thank God only when things are going well in your life? Or do you still thank Him during the tough times? I must admit, I was one of those who only thanked God when my life was going well – up until a few years ago. It took a prison experience to show me and open my eyes to the many blessings that surround me daily, blessings that I now thank Him for all the time. Even when times are tough, there is still so much to be thankful for. If I had a blessing jar here today, here are a few blessings that would be in it.

  • Waking up every morning
  • Having a conversation about God with someone
  • The ability to run and work-out (for five months in solitary I was not able to do that)
  • Attending church, even here in prison
  • Sense of smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch
  • Letters from friends and family!! The best blessing of all!!!
  • Twenty 15-minute phone calls every month
  • Ability to read a book
  • Hot humid days in Texas
  • Listening to the birds chirping
  • Able to see the green grass and blue sky
  • Supportive and loving family and friends
  • A job here making 12 cents an hour. True.
  • Scratching a mosquito bite
  • The smell of an incoming rain storm
  • Writing a letter
  • Hearing crickets
  • Worship music
  • Watching the sun rise and set
  • Cheese cake
  • Strumming a guitar
  • Speed walking to chow
  • Listening to another inmate who needs someone to talk to
  • Sleeping with a pillow (not every place allows pillows)
  • Wearing sweat pants (not every place allows sweat pants)
  • Windy days
  • A sun burn on my face
  • Taking a nap
  • Air conditioning
  • A God who overwhelms me with love every day!

These are just a few things that I’ve come up with. I know there are thousands of things I’m thankful for. What kind of list can you come up with? Or try the blessing jar for a year. And don’t forget to give God thanks in all circumstances!

That Is Enough

Author unknown.

A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”

Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?”

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room with his tail wagging and an eager show of gladness.  Dog-Excited

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside… He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing. I know my Master is there and that is enough.”