What makes a good friend?

My dog died last Sunday. She was so loving and faithful to me. Everywhere I went she followed if she could. She would sit at my feet and bark if anyone knocked on the door – that is until her hearing got so bad she could no longer hear the knocks. Missy couldn’t bring me presents but she gave me presence. She had unconditional love.

I fear I’m not as faithful a friend as Missy when it comes to caring for my friends. I’m ashamed of how slow I am to respond in many situations. But there are other times when I’m true blue… An example happened just before I began writing this post when I got a friend request on Facebook from someone who was already my Facebook friend. Shortly after accepting the friend request I got a message from her through FB chat. I suspected it might not truly be her so I called her on the phone and my suspicions were correct. I notified Facebook and then sent messages to everyone who friended the impostor account sitting up late into the night as new friends were added to the impostor’s page. I might not have done it for any and every situation like that, but this friend is so dear to my heart and she and her friends could have easily been taken advantage of.

I’m not a Suzie Homemaker, so I’m not as likely to come running with food every time it is generally appropriate. But there are other situations such as the one I described above where I’m better able to be a friend. I tend to see a parallel with spiritual gifts. We are not given the same spiritual gifts but each has special God-given gifts. (See Romans 12). I can stand to improve, but I don’t see beating myself up for not measuring up to the expectations of all people as compared to the expectations of God, and I pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

How about you? What are some ways you offer friendship? Do some come more easily than others?

Again, I think of Missy. She couldn’t bring anything tangible into my life. She cost me money when you get right down to it, but she brought so much love and relaxation – something money can’t buy.

So again, I ponder… what is it that makes a good friend?

Time… availability… good will… smiles… encouragement… thoughtful gestures, no matter how big or small…

How many traits can you name in the comments below?

Praying with Grandchildren

I love sharing life lessons with my grandchildren that demonstrate God’s love for us through all that He has created. I find that in almost any conversation showing them that God is active and alive in their lives may not be easy but it is worth the effort to try. And I get great joy when my nine year old granddaughter shares a book with me and says she knows I will like it because it has “God stuff” in it. Recently she shared her “I love Jesus” pin she received at vacation Bible school and I will cherish her sweet gift forever. It makes me realize that all my words need to be God words because little ears are listening. 

We also talk about prayer and praying when we take our walks in the woods by our home or when we work together in my home office. I love sharing pretty paper and pens, notepads and supplies and enjoy listening as she uses her imagination as well as her heart to tell me stories. It was one of these times when she asked me about praying. Wow, the responsibility I felt as I chose my words was tremendous. In my excitement to tell her about how much I love God and prayer I wondered if I could tell her too much. Would my words discourage rather than encourage? How could I keep it simple and appropriate for her age? Would I sound too pompous or too phony?

As always, my wise little granddaughter guided me rather than the other way around. I can’t possibly repeat word for word what her 9 year old heart expressed but her words were simple. “Grandma, I can pray anywhere, can’t you?  And if I can’t think of the words, I just think it in my heart.” 

Wow, how do you top that lesson?  From there we made up sentences for each other about where we could pray. Here is the simple poem we came up with and these sentiments will last me a lifetime.

Do you pray on your knees or while gazing into trees?

Do you fold your hands or simply stand?

Do you speak aloud or are you too proud?

Do you pray for another or leave that to your brother?

Do you pray from the heart or are you afraid to start?

It doesn’t matter your age or if you write words on a page.

 Just remember God always cares about your prayers. 

No truer words were ever spoken from a nine year old and this old grandma couldn’t have made a life lesson any more meaningful than this. I am blessed to have an influence on my own grandchildren and I pray for all grandparents that they can touch the hearts of their grandchildren with a life lesson from their hearts. 

 

For the Love of Libraries

Not too long after I learned to read, my mother took me to the children’s library in Anaheim, California, where we lived, to get my first library card. That was the start of weekly trips to the library for armfuls of books, a routine we kept for years.

I loved that place! Shelf after shelf filled with books to explore. I walked the aisles, scanning titles and covers. Every visit felt like discovering a new friend.

I took my girls to the library too. And now one goes to the library with her young son, and one reads to her students, and both are looking forward to reading to the babies who will be joining their families soon.

My five-year-old grandson loves the library. And why not? Whatever he sees that looks interesting, he can check out and take home (with mom’s approval).

Solomon walked with his grandpa to a small neighborhood library when we were visiting Savannah in July. They came home with a bag full of books he’d picked out–beginning readers and a huge picture book about alligators. Solomon sat right down and showed me every book. He’d had a great time. Later in the trip, I took Solomon to a bookstore to spend some of his birthday money. The choices there overwhelmed him. But not at the library.

Most libraries have concluded their summer reading programs for this year. But a new school year awaits … and so does your public library!

Besides a parent’s lap, the library is the best place for children to develop a love of books, reading, and learning. Even in our high-tech world.

Does your child have a library card? If not, go get one soon!

The more that you read,

the more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

the more places you’ll go.

–Dr. Seuss

DIANE

Visit Diane at www.abibleplace.com
© 2012, Diane Stortz


 

Grocery shopping tips

Do you shop for groceries? If so, you’re the gatekeeper who decides which foods come into your pantry. Decision-making at the supermarket impacts your family’s health and budget.

Here are a few tips for packing your grocery cart full of nutritious eats:

1) Never go to the supermarket hungry. Your rumbling tummy will impact your decisions and you may toss extras into your cart because they appeal to you at the moment. Guess what most of us reach for when we’re impulse buying? Junk food!

2) Stock mostly items from the perimeter of the store: fresh produce, dairy, eggs, and meats. Venture into the interior aisles for staples such as nuts, pasta, legumes, brown rice, cereal, and whole grain bread.

3) Check what coupons you have in your stash and skim the store flyers to see what’s on sale. But try to avoid convenience foods, even if you do have a coupon or they’re on sale. Processed foods are laced with salt, additives and colorings – yuck.

In today’s economy, using our food dollars wisely is critical. Bringing wholesome foods home feels good, plus it’s an investment in your family’s health. So … what’s on your grocery list this week?

Blessings to you,

Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD

 

 

 

3 Basics for Choosing a Church

Every believer goes through a time when they must decide on which church is right for their family. If they have children, it’s important to consider them in the decision. For me, there are three basic things to consider::

  • Teaching
  • Style of worship
  • Genuine love

Teaching

  • Does the church teach in a way you can understand?
  • Does it cover topics that are important to you?
  • Is it biblically sound?
  • Are questions and differing opinions encouraged and explored?
  • Are there age-appropriate classes for your children?
  • Do children’s classes incorporate active Bible learning as opposed to sit-and-listen learning?
  • Do the teachers seem glad to be there and happy to teach your children?

Style of Worship

  • Do you prefer contemporary or a more traditional worship service?
  • What type of music do you prefer?
  • Are you more comfortable in a quiet service or one where people speak out during the sermon or prayer?
  • Do you like dancing, raising of hands, clapping during the singing?

Genuine Love

This, to me, is one of the main things to evaluate. Jesus’ greatest commandments were to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and that we love one another. So this is a biggie.

  • Are the people warm and friendly?
  • Do you feel a spirit of peace and unity within the congregation?
  • Do the people enjoy visiting with each other and do they include newcomers in conversation?
  • Is there joy among the congregation?
  • Are children greeted and valued as well as adults?
  • Do people seem authentic? Do they feel comfortable being themselves or must they always appear to have it all together?

Above all, pray about where God would have you go to church and follow what feels right. You may need to visit a church several times to get a good feel for it.  When you find the right church for your family, commit to stick with it like you would any other important relationship unless serious problems arise that you cannot tolerate.  God will bless you as you become involved with your new church family.

What are requirements for any church you regularly attend? What things would you consider deal breakers?