Why Your Friendships Change When You Reach Midlife (And What You Can Do About It.)

Friendship is a channel of Jesus’ love extended to and through us. Each phase of life comes with a new battering ram and a different perspective. As we get older, we have the potential to view life through a wiser lens. Experience on earth’s soil brings us closer to God when we continue to seek Him through it, daily.

Friendships change with the phases of life that we go through. Some friendships shift and change characteristics, and others grow alongside each other. By midlife, friendships may have seen a few phases of change.

Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times.” Sometimes this is more difficult than it was before, but friendship within the love of Christ is worth the effort. These friendships help us traverse through each season of our lives.

Here are 10 reasons why friendships change around midlife and what you can do about it. Click here to continue reading …


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The Ice Circles (#jammed daily devo, day 350)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 350: Let it Go.

“I will never again remember…” Hebrews 10:17

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again …” I droned, and my daughter’s DECJAM16eyeball conquered. We spend a lot of time discussing the same issues.

“What should I do, mom?” she asked.

“Be kind, and include,” I repeated, after deleting all of the other thoughts and sentiments I swirling around in my head.

“Remember, it’s not about what we want to do,” I told her, “but what we’re here on this earth to do.”

Later that morning, I had noticed some ice circles on my walk. Strange, how the ice just froze in circles like that. “That’s what all these never-ending lessons remind me of …” I thought to myself, “frozen circles.”

 

When our patience comes under rapid-fire, as Christians we are called to keep our cool.

Today’s verse quotes a prophecy about a day when the Lord would no longer require sacrifice for sin.

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31) …And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”(Jeremiah 31:34)

It’s repeated in the New Testament, as are a lot of OT prophesies. There’s a lot to be said, and a lot that’s been studied, about repetitive behavior. These conversations that we repeat with our children are opportunities disguised as annoyance. As Christians, we live our lives in repetitive format. Each day, spending time in prayer and the Word, and then applying it to our lives the best we humanly can.

The very fact that Scripture is repetitive should tip us off to the fact that God has us wired to be creatures of habit and routine.

The next time we can’t believe we’re having “that” conversation again, let’s try to remember that it’s simply a parental process of repetition. The seeds we’re planting need time to grow and mistakes to be applied to.

Our children are listening. Our God is speaking. He remembers us, but forgets our sin.

He’s cleared off the mess of sacrifice so that we can fill that space with what He’s repeating to us, now. “I will never again remember….” so that we can accept forgiveness, and focus on the good fight of faith.

Jesus’ birth changed everything. It’s a story to be repeated for all time. He took the weight of sacrifice off of us, and bore that burden until He squashed it on the cross. Christmas is a time to repeat the magnitude of His birth. Freeze that circle. Repeat that story. Let it keep moving and growing and revealing more and more with each rotation.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for ice circles, and what the simple elements of nature lay waiting to teach us each day. Thank You for placing us in such a beautiful atmosphere, and forgive us for mistreating or walking by Your wonders. Bless us to notice and repeat Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Circling,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

 

 

The Last Day

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The product of my rushed suburban childhood is arm-in-arm in that sandy crop of kids, traditionally appreciating the last day of school in their little lake town …where the busiest road has a 35 mph speed limit, and we can count the number of stop lights on one hand. “Rush” is absent from their vocabulary.

PERFECTTraditions can bloom dreams if we allow them to align our intentions with His design. The small lake town I live in has taught me to treasure tradition. In your town, on the farm, amidst a metropolis, or in your move; here are some benefits I’ve uncovered in establishing a little tradition.

#heartseeds

1.Stability

foundation- the basis or groundwork for anything…the natural or prepared ground on which some structure exists. (dictionary.com)

Learning to leave God in our dreams takes faith tough enough to trust that His view of them will undoubtably differ from our expectations a lot of the time. If we learn to look up before we dream out; the surrounding blessings, people, and places in life begin to reveal parts of His purpose. Tradition rooted in Christ yields a stable foundation to dream upon.

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the pieces of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

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Paul reminded the church at Ephesus to embrace the foundation that Jesus laid at the foot of the cross.  We would be wise to do the same. When our dream is drifting with the Creator’s current, living it each day spreads the virtuous kindness and joy of Jesus.

2. Resilience 

“Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good.” 1 Thes. 5:21

I had all intentions of moving by the water to be out on the water, but God threw out the anchor… and beached my boat.  And as I peeled back the layers of blessing from the shoreline, I’m so glad he didn’t let me rush past it all. Changing the direction of our lives is never easy, but layered in the learning are blessings that follow an obedient heart. “Clinging” to those blessings, to who He is, shapes a resilient heart.

resilience the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.- Google

The pre-school years flew by, and the “Last Day” tradition that started with four moms is still growing … each year new friendships form and new laughs are logged. We pray for each other, help each other, laugh, cry and load up on a bus to celebrate milestones together… stand arm-in-arm together.

#dontskipachapter

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3. Confidence

“So, brothers and sisters, all you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

Paul wrote this letter to clarify some traditions that had been muddled in translation. Can you imagine passing things down accurately without the Internet?

I’ve been privy to witness, that the tradition of excellence my town, has more to do than just the happy disposition that often follows suit with living on the shoreline of one of the world’s Great Lakes. The tale of each home-town Tiger begins with tradition.

From the first day they high-five the elementary-school principal down hallways decked with yellow smiles, they are brought up to believe they can find their best and bring it out in others. The entire town cheers them on until they show up dressed in white to lookout from that shoreline together one last time …arm-in-arm. I’ve watched my daughters watch those beautiful graduates, confident they can conquer anything because they’ve been raised to believe that they will.

Confident, bright, and beautiful blooms are the result of roots. Spectacular moments of growth don’t last forever, but roots remain to break through the soil once again.

PERFECT copyChristians are confident in the joy Jesus. From the very first time we high-five Him as we’re dunked under the water, or whisper a prayer…His truth allows us to bloom beautifully along life’s bumpy road. Like the graduates confident they can conquer the world, He stands with us, arm-in-arm, in a victory that’s already been won.

4.Triumph

“I must say how pleased I am to hear that you remember me in everything and continue to hold on to the traditions I have passed on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2

Paul wrote this letter to the believers at Corinth as they were torn by spiritual immaturity in attempting to uphold tradition.

Triumph is synonymous for “coming back.”

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The “Last Day” tradition isn’t always a smoothly executed plan, but we all keep coming back. Tradition gives us a space to embrace our place on this earth.

Sometimes the frustration in having to be still is God whispering that you’re already here. Perhaps the purpose of my dream to live by the lake was simply to slow down and embrace tradition all along. That’s all God asks of us …keep coming back. Keep the tradition of meeting with Him everyday …of looking for Him in everything we experience. Those are strong roots, a stable foundation, a resilient reliance, and a triumphant destination.

Happy Summer!!!

Go Tigers!

Megs

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The Audience

“Sorry!” My oldest called out as she sent her Daddy’s peg flying off the game-board.

“What?!?” he retorted, “You just broke your own rule!”

imageMy little one lined up a teeny tiny animal audience as they argued. The table melted down into assigning blame, hurt feelings, and an unfinished game. It’s impossible to declare the winner of a game with no rules, and I was not going to take sides…

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Life’s a lot more complicated than the game of “Sorry.” It’s easy to forgive someone for knocking your game peg off the board, but not so easy to swim through the hurt of being bumped. There are times I feel unqualified to wipe away my daughters’ tears as I choke back my own. Praying for the right way to raise them, I discovered two words to help me piece together a plan.

Though they appear synonymous, “favor” and “favoritism” communicate opposite messages in fostering a healthy community. These three steps will help you land on the right side of the coin.

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1. Say something.

“Favoritism: the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.” Google.com

Life can be a lot about choosing sides and shifting circles, causing hurt feelings to be hidden in fear of being cut out. But it’s important to put a voice to hurt in a non-accusatory or defensively dramatic fashion. I try to guide my daughters (and repeat to myself) to talk directly to the one who hurt them, not around them in circles. For example:

“When you said that, it hurt my feelings.”

When we align with the audience of favoritism, we fail to notice God’s favor; when true hurts of the heart are spoken out loud, we allow God’s favor to defend us.

“He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart…he who does these things will never be shaken.” Psalms 15:2,5

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How is one to know they’ve hurt me if they have no idea they’ve wounded me? God doesn’t care about the clamor to click and the clack to belong. Speaking up when my feelings are hurt without putting my foot in my mouth is an impossibly difficult task, but it’s more conducive to community than seething to attain sympathy out of thin air.

“We hide pain in the weirdest places…broken souls with smiling faces…Just look around and you see that people …are scared to say how they really feel …we all need …a little honesty.” ‘You are Loved,’ by Stars Go Dim.

#saysomething

2. Voluntarily forgive.

“Favor: an attitude of approval or liking…an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.” Google.com

Forgiveness is an important extension of the grace Jesus died to give us. It is something a human to human relationship is not 100% capable of without His presence. We consult our circle, but Christ didn’t have a clique. (Luke 4:19)

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Cliques offer protection, status, guaranteed friendship, trust, and acceptance. Though we look to each other for these things, only Christ is capable of fulfilling a lifetime of love and belonging. God wired our desire to seek His Son.

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34-35image

Christ loves beyond faults, and gifts grace without regard to requirement. Extend grace.

#forgiveaboutit

3. Let it go.

The puzzling and powerless feeling of injustice is agonizing, but I survive by crying out to God. The ugly cry. The uncontrollable, shoulders shaking in sobs and nose running down my face …desperate to understand “why?” cry.

Sometimes, life hurts more than we can comprehend because we’re not built to lean on other people …we’re meant to lean on God. He will fight our battles for us if we will faithfully hand them over.

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Before I drop them off at school, in sibling mediation, at bedtime …I’m constantly trumping my daughters’ excuses with my favorite soapbox.

“and we are…” I’ll bait.
“Kind,” they comply. Life’s most important rule.

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” James 2:1

It’s hard to be kind in the face of calamity when I have a ferociously strong feeling about what is fair. But I believe God. Speaking the truth of our hearts, and forgiving without requiring apology …that’s our part. The rest is His area of expertise.

“There were three options for citizens under Roman rule: sell out, get out, or fight back… Jesus introduced a fourth option: serve…” Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (James 2:1-26 commentary)

I pray to mimic Jesus’ justice and fake it till I make it all the way into His arms; letting Him fill the gap of what I cannot accomplish alone, and fight what I was never equipped to battle.

#letitgo

imageLife is too risky to run without rules, yelling “sorry!” over shoulders when feelings flip and hearts are hurt. Reactions CAN land on the right side of the coin by determining which audience is driving our decisions. The audience of favoritism caters to cliques; the audience of God’s favor fosters community.

Speak. Forgive. Let go.

We say, “Sorry!!” Jesus says, “Grace!!”
#Whoseyouraudience

Happy Card Drawing!
Megs

The Friend Book

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The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over the pier. It had enveloped the lighthouse, and I checked my footprints to make sure I hadn’t drifted off the pavement to the glazed-over river. I trekked on, trusting it was still out there beyond the mist. A wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I threw my arms up and let started to dance-walk to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.

My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.

There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God asks me to write about something, He has a lesson for me to learn and a story someone needs to hear. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together.

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Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.

imageThat foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’ve been challenged to peer into the past before before moving forward.

Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.

I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed an inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change.

Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of past experience flares to the surface.

“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”

Focus on the light beyond the fog.

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Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends …and church that can feel like home even though it’s several states away from our actual homes.

I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. We are the church. Set here to love the people in our lives. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). We weren’t meant to be alone. We can reach out to friends He’s placed in our lives to allow their light alongside ours to pierce through the fog.

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Throwback Update:

Wow! Reading this reminded me how afraid I was to tell my story …worried that no one would be able to relate. The original post was the framework for a review of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp. I highly recommend it. Her words and the collective stories contributed to it came alongside me when I need to know that I was not alone.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned while writing my own book on friendship, “Friends with Everyone,” is to let go of fear and trust God’s timing and purpose for my story. Of course someone needs to read it. You know what?! I needed to read it! We are all placed in each others lives, purposefully, by a God who isn’t in the business of coincidence. Stay tuned for my next release …”Surface.”

Click here for a copy of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp.

Click here to grab your copy of Friends with Everyone …and Happy Reading!!!

Megs