28 January 2015

The Discipline of Friendship

I am currently a leader for a midsize group at our church during the Exodus study we are doing. We get emails about devotions and this one struck a cord so I wanted to share with others.



“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Before you read any further, grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Think of something in your life that you’re grateful for and write it down. Next, think of something that is a concern to you and write it down. Finally, think of all the friends you have. How many of them know the answer to the previous two questions? Chances are that it is less than a handful, but hopefully it is more than zero.

Here’s the thing, out of all the spiritual disciplines that we practice (prayer, fasting, Bible reading, etc.), I wonder if, just maybe, the most important spiritual discipline you can practice is the discipline of friendship. Now, I imagine that most of you don’t think of friendship as a discipline, but for many of us, friendship, not just friendship, but authentic friendships are missing in our lives. Individualism, autonomy, privatization, isolation, and secret sin become barriers to having authentic friendships.

This is a great misfortune because it is in authentic friendships that we develop into what God wants us to be. This doesn’t just happen automatically. It is something we have to work at. We need to place ourselves in situations where authentic friendships happen. We need to practice the discipline of friendship.

Jesus is our supreme example of friendship. At the core of His ministry was a deep friendship with the apostles, whom he called “friends” (John 15:13-15). The author of Hebrews talks about the importance of friendship when we are warned “not to give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). This is a call for friendship with other believers, because without it we will never be all God wants us to be.

One of my favorite stories on friendship is found in Mark’s gospel (Mark 2:3-5). A paralyzed man was brought by four of his friends to where Jesus was preaching. The crowd was so large that the men were unable to get to Jesus through a normal route, so they carried the man to the roof, tore open a hole in it and lowered their paralyzed friend to where Jesus was. Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man and his friends and healed him. I want to be the kind of friend that the paralyzed man had. I have been fortunate to have friends in my life like he had. I was going through a very challenging time in my life a few years ago and I had a handful of friends who “carried” me.

You see, as followers of Christ, friendship is not optional. We are in a relationship with God and His people and God’s truth is most effective, learned and lived through relationships. So, we must get past our individualism, isolation, and sin and both pursue and practice authentic friendships in our lives.

Kent Hughes sums up friendships best when he writes, “Friendships hold the promise of grace!”

~ Tim Hall

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30 December 2014

Best Moments of 2014


 
 
Looking back 2014 was an interesting year. Without a doubt full of a few very very memorable adventures.  I figured I would highlight my favorite memory of the year for a fun little recap and reminder that life is great and I am blessed. However, I couldn’t pick just one as two adventures stood out so I’ll highlight my top two.







 

 
Mission Trip to Mali. I’ve always dreamed of traveling to Africa. I will admit I always claimed I would travel to Africa for my honeymoon – well that obviously isn’t happening anytime soon. Instead I was able to do something event better. I traveled to Africa with a team from my church on a mission trip. We went to Mali to inoculate animals and spread God’s love and gospel. What an amazing trip full of adventure, love, new friendships, and spiritual enrichment. I for sure fell in love with Africa and it’s people and can’t wait to return again one day soon.
 

 

Buying a home in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Another dream of mine was to own a home on the beach somewhere tropic. I always used to think Mexico but then feel crazy in love with this funky little gorgeous island of Vieques. I can say with much excitement that dream of island home ownership was made possible this past year when my parents and I bought a little shack. Ok it’s certainly not a shack it’s a cute little tow bedroom home nestled in a jungle of sorts. It’s not a sprawling mansion on the ocean but its only a few blocks away and perfect. I without a doubt feel blessed and love knowing  I can escape whenever I fancy to this laid back island of beauty warmth and endless turquoise waters.













 

Of course these are only two of the many many amazing things that happened this last year. I am surrounded by a strong loving family and a great group of friends and colleagues. There are so many everyday life moments that deserve celebrating. Plus I took several more amazing trips such as New York City, Las Vegas, and Canada. But if I start listing every great moment of 2014 I’ll be here for days and you will be bored. So instead you get the top two. I also won’t pretend life is perfect, 2014 had it’s fair share of bumps in the road, but I choose to look on the bright side and only focus on the positive. Here’s to hoping 2015 is just as great if not better!

 
 

24 December 2014

Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas

 
 
Wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you take time to reflect this Christmas season on the joy and true meaning of the holiday. I can't wait to kick off the celebrations tonight with a White Christmas themed Christmas Eve service at Christ Community. I feel so very blessed to be surrounded by ones I love this holiday season and will never take this for granted. To those of you who aren't able to spend Christams with your family my thoughts will be with you.
 




22 December 2014

Adding a Little Christmas Cheer to the Country Shack


 
My dad and brothers actually built this adorable country shack years ago as a “playhouse” of sorts. Now that it’s all fixed up and habitable we thought it would be fun to spend Christmas eve cozied up inside by the fire watching movies.
 
I decided this warranted a few decorations to make the shack more festive. Luckily there are an abundance of cedar trees growing wild that I was able to snip some branches off, plenty of pines to gather cones from, and discounted poinsettias at the store.

I might still add a tree or string of lights but we are close to ready for a snuggly Christmas Eve movie night after the Christmas Service.

21 December 2014

Feliz Navidad from Vieques


The local nursery was full of poinsettias which was a fun surprise. So I of course added a few to our house for the time we were on the island. A touch of Christmas in the tropics.
 


One house stood out as without a doubt the best dressed holiday island house.


And I decided to be super cheesy and do a holiday photo shoot of sorts on the beach. My mom made this awesome Santa hat so figured why not have a little fun with it.



 

20 December 2014

Las Iguanas Before Rennovations



I spent about six hours cleaning our new Beach shack like a crazy person before my parents arrived. It is amazing what a lot of elbow grease and Clorox can do to spruce a place up. The few fun new bright clean accessories I brought along helped as well.



Fresh flowers and fun new furniture help as well. I made several trips to the local plant store and smuggled a piece of Ikea furniture over in my luggage


 


I also ditched some very dirty dingy rugs and heavy curtains.




Towards the end of the week we got our new Woodstock coffee table. It adds a fun pop of color plus was made locally which I like.



We have a LONG ways to go but it already looks brighter and felt cleaner than our last visit. Can't wait to show after photos and entice many of you to rent our little island gem for a week.

Next on the list is new windows, new paint, a whole new bathroom, new covers for the couch/chairs, new pillows, curtains, and some unfun improvements such as roof fixing and a parking area.