Imagine a petite, brainy, 20-year-old English major who’s long on earnest enthusiasm and short on physical grace. (That’s code for cute but clumsy.) She’s great at remembering details like arabica vs. robusta beans or the names of espresso drinks. However, she can’t always remember to put the carafe in place before brewing the coffee, which means a steady boiling stream floods the counter. Again.
Imagine, too, that she’s in the most serious romance of her life and giddy with thoughts of when he might show up for a (free) cup of joe and conversation. She’s also probably working on homework behind the counter and slightly lost in the pages of a book. Now, ask her to fix a latte with skim milk and a LIGHTLY-toasted bagel.
We’re talking about friendships with my buddy Keri Lee from Free to Fly Ministries again this week. Check out last week’s post where she laments her “black thumbs” when it comes to caring for houseplants but offers Biblical wisdom on caring for our friendships. Such good reminders for me!
This week, though, I asked her, “What about when the relationship ends despite best efforts?” Here are her thoughts and encouragement to get out there and try again.
Excited for you to meet my friend Keri Lee Robbins this week as she shares a two-part series on tending our “friendship plants” with wisdom from God’s word. Keri Lee and I met a few years ago through Twitter as we were traveling to attend the same conference. My Las Vegas buddy is a gentle yet passionate advocate for foster care and adoption as well as for those with disabilities. So glad to call her my friend. Enjoy!
I do not have a green thumb at all. It’s quite black. Like midnight black. Generally speaking, giving me a plant is sentencing it to death. It’s a sad reality that I have come to accept. The people I love know that I do enjoy flowers though, so recently I was given 2 flowering plants.
On Mother’s Day, my Mom gave me an orchid. An orchid. One of the hardest plants to keep alive in the history of plants. It had five very pretty little flowers on it. I was immediately enamored and terrified. Then, my sweet friend Cindy brought me a flowering succulent with lovely coral flowers.
Both plants came with little cards detailing how to care for them, and I studied them cautiously. They only needed water once a week with good drainage, medium sunlight, and needed to be transplanted when they got larger. There was, however, nothing on the cards to prepare me for what would occur within a few days.
The flowers began to brown and fall off.
I’m a muddy mix of post-Harvey feelings. I bet you are, too.
I’m grateful my neighborhood was spared the worst so we can be out there helping our city. I’m heartbroken over other’s losses. I’m also worried about my friends facing down Hurricane Irma, but I’m not sure how to help them. I want to know how long it’s going to take for us to recover, to feel normal again.
Longer than I’d like, I’m sure.
It’s not just the physical recovery either. I had two recent experiences that showed me the emotional toll of a disaster, even for people who didn’t lose their homes. Sunday night I awoke from a disturbing nightmare about flooding. I won’t recount the details. Too many people around me lived the real thing while our family stayed high and dry. Then, 2AM Wednesday, a short-lived thunderstorm rolled into Houston. I bolted up, crying out, “What’s happening?!” I’ve heard from other friends who reacted similarly, some taking shelter in closets in case of more tornadoes, and all of us worrying about other people.
And we are the ones who lost nothing in the physical sense. I can’t fathom the trauma of people who lost homes, cars, jobs, or family. What is abundantly clear, however, is that all of us need grace and time to heal.
We saw blue sky peek through around 6pm yesterday for the first time in days, and I think our whole city cheered. Even as harrowing rescue efforts continued and shelters filled, we had a moment of hope and a chance to smile at something. We needed that bit of sunshine so much.
The whole Texas coast is going to need hopeful moments to help us push through the Harvey and Houston flood disasters, but we’re also going to need help. Some, like our family, have been spared the worst of it, and we are profoundly grateful. We now have an opportunity to help others, and we are being joined by so many of you from all over the world who want to help, too. It’s encouraging.
However, I’ve noticed that not all types of “helping” are encouraging or even useful—I’ll list a few actions later that are extremely needed, but first, here are three things that we could use your help in stopping:
OK, enough of that. We are thankful that you are motivated to care and to help, so here are three things we need you to start doing if you haven’t already:
I am grateful for the outpouring of love, support, and hard work I’m seeing all around me. Good-hearted people everywhere are simply rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. (I especially love when I see a news crew put down their microphones and actually help people into boats. Remember, if the news team can arrive there, then just off camera, there are a dozen first-responders and volunteers working really hard.) Pray for the folks on the front line as well as those they are helping. And thank you for caring about Texas. God bless you.
Between Monday’s eclipse and getting kids back to school, it’s already been a strange week. Now, with Hurricane Harvey bearing down on us here in Texas, we’re all throwing our schedules out the window and getting prepared.
Storm prep is a bit sobering—last year’s devastating floods are still fresh on people’s minds. However, one good thing that always happens in Houston is that people begin to focus on taking care of their families and neighbors. Grace starts to manifest itself in beautiful ways.
In my own life this week, I’ve needed a refresher on that amazing grace. What I wrote last week on forbearance and what I’ve wanted to write about forgiveness this week have been put to the test. There haven’t been any big upsets, but I’ve been an anxious, irritable mess and haven’t had a whole lot of grace for my family or myself. On top of that, every bit of sharp-tongued criticism I’ve directed at my family, every hurt feeling I’ve struggled to release—all of it has been on a replay loop in my brain. Forbearance? Forgiveness? Who can write about those when you can’t seem to extend either?
Now, a few of you other veteran parents just nodded knowingly because you are acutely aware that things get a little tense as the kids head back to school. In fact, my problem-solving husband was Googling articles on the August Blues, trying to help me gain perspective. (He was also trying to soothe me with science since I’m a sucker for good research—if nerd-speak isn’t an official love language, it should be.)
So yes, I’m aware that what I’ve been experiencing—the short temper, the frustration, and the angsty regrets over those feelings—isn’t that different from other moms in back-to-school mode, especially those who tend toward some anxiety and depression like me.
So do I dare write about things like forbearance and forgiveness? You bet I do.
This week I posted on Facebook with regards to events in Charlottesville, VA, “I pledge not to look away, not to offer the cop-out of “It’s complicated” as an excuse for doing nothing. This white supremacist garbage is straight out of hell, and we’ve got our work cut out for us as the body of Christ to unseat an ancient evil. But our Jesus will have the victory in the end.”
I truly believe we, the church, have an opportunity to respond to God’s call for unity within His body and then work shoulder-to-shoulder to fight what is ultimately a spiritual battle against racism, sexism, class-ism and any other “-ism” that’s not’s reflective of Who we serve. (If you need a starting place to understand that vision, check out Derwin Gray’s latest book The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World. Both he and Trillia Newbill are leaders who are speaking and writing eloquently on the topic.) With that vision in mind, I want to remind us of two tools in our tool belts, forbearance and forgiveness, that will go a long way in helping as we dismantle old mindsets and walk in Christ’s will for His earth. I’ve written a few chapters about those two things in New Woman, New Clothes, so I’ll share some excerpts this week and next.
And sisters and brothers, hold tight to Galatians 6:9 and let’s not grow weary of doing the good things Christ is calling us to do, for in due time we will reap a harvest!