Swipe Right to Friend: A Review

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Y’all, I have to say that I haven’t been very good with the female friendships in my life. I am more prone to male friendships over the years, as the guys I was close with in college can attest (except for Brooke and Angela). I found that women often brought drama and I wanted as far away from it as possible, still do.

As I have gotten older though I have found that I crave female friendships, women to connect with and talk with. There are certain things that frankly I just cannot with men-and honestly, should not. So I dug into Never Unfriended from Lisa-Jo Baker, her newest out from B&H Publishing over the last couple of weeks.

This book? Well I was prepared to think it was another in a line of gushy women-love books for believers. I was prepped to read alot of fluff and not much content, and oft mis-contextualized Scripture thrown in for good measure. But that was not the case y’all.

It chronicles Lisa-Jo’s own walk in female friendships, starting first with what we fear about them. Chapters dig into the realities of life lived outside of a computer/phone screen in real life with women around us. What holds us back from them, and what keeps us talking about them long after they’ve departed.

“For better or worse, female friendships take courage to start and courage to maintain.” (pg. 43)

She walks you through being the new girl, and y’all, we will always be the new girl at some point. And we’ll also be the girl to include the new girl. Always.

As you dig deeper into this book you’ll find sections on what you can do about your friendships and what you cannot do. We have to embrace both, as Lisa-Jo points out. There are points of application in some areas, and points to pray and seek further wisdom on. There were points where I had to put down the book and reflect on friendships I had let go of and ones I had so desperately clung to when I shouldn’t have.

This book is a much needed resource for women today. It highlights key areas I see continuously besieging friendships I am in, and those I am on the fringes of. You may disagree with her on some points, but allow the Holy Spirit to convict you as you read as well, opening up the space you have guarded off due to broken trust and hurt in past relationships. I highly recommend this book for women in a single context. I wouldn’t encourage a group study on this per say, as you need space to solely process and work through some areas she brings up…or maybe that was just me.

At the end you’ll find where you can start on never being unfriended, but you already have if you’ve picked up this book. Lisa-Jo provides more than platitudes with this book, she provides opportunities for women to connect and grow in community in real-life friendships, not the ones we see plaguing our jealous hearts across Instagram and Pinterest.


In exchange for this review, a free copy of the book was provided by the publisher, B&H. You can pick up this book at LifeWay Christian Stores or on their website, as well as other retailers nationwide.

The Death of a Friendship

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For almost the last year I have been grieving the gradual death of a friendship, trying as I might to revive something that just is flat out dead. The reality of that death hit me hard this weekend, much like any death would. I had to come to the very real and grave decision to let this friendship die. Several friends I have discussed this with over the course of the year were encouraging and supportive, where this friendship had been concerned, allowing me to talk through it and fight to sustain it.

We don’t talk much about this really, as we grow more into being seen as having all these friendships, connections and followers in our social media world. I see books pouring out about connection and engagement, craving it with one another. That is good y’all, I really do champion that. But I think we forget the ugly side of it too, that some friendships do die, even after years of relational contact. Some glide away, rolling in and out like the tide on a lazy day at the beach.

But some? Well you find yourself grieving and worrying, pouring too much and not enough into, and finding yourself being torn further by keeping them alive and sustaining them. But it must be done. Some times that means we are the ones who have to kill it. We have to put it down to put it out of it’s misery, and quite possibly our own. You shouldn’t be filled with regret after leaving time with that friend, ever. That’s not a friendship worth keeping alive.

If I am filled with regret after time spent with this friend, why do I continue to allow this friendship to stay alive?

That’s the question I had to ask myself yesterday. It’s the one I have consistently had to ask myself over the last year of seeing this friendship die and going back with the paddles to bring it back to life. Dear friends would say, “It’s for the best, let it die.” I would champion on, trying to find redemption, pointing to times where encouragement and respect were at the forefront. But those snippets were small and distant the longer this friendship continued on life support.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the ability to grieve something like this, and then move forward from it. Just as I talked about One Way Friendships before, I think we have to be a friend to ourselves first in order to realize that some deaths are inevitable in friendships, and that we can be better from it. I saw that over the course of this year I have forfeited some of my very own words, truth and love in order to give life to a friendship that should have had the plug pulled.

Grieve the loss, but don’t let the nostalgia of a seasonal friendship deceive you into thinking it’s a lifelong one. As has been said before, some friends are here for a reason, others for a season, and still others for a lifetime. But for our own good, and the good of our other friendships, don’t try to make one of those into something are not. Allow them to die, grieve the loss, and forge into relationships meant for you in your season, for whatever reason, and pouring into those lifelong ones which enjoy all the stages of life, even the grieving of death.

 Friendships and Singles

As a single lady it’s often hard to define the relationships I have outside of marital status with certain friends. “Yeah, he’s my friend, and that’s his wife.” When you are single in your 30’s and beyond, it becomes an interesting thing to have friendships that aren’t in couples or defined by the status of ones romantic relationships. It becomes harder for many to navigate the boundaries (or even know what they are) within the confines of friendships of the opposite sex. 

Recently I read this great article from Paul Maxwell that does one of the best jobs I’ve seen outside of Gary Thomas’s Boundaries books in laying out some specific parameters and cautions, as well as benefits in being friends with the opposite sex. 

Yes, he defines it in Christian terms, but I do think across the board this applies to any friendship between men and women. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on this topic we often shy away from in Christian circles because it’s just not something we navigate well-at least not from lack of trying…

When The Words Won’t Come

Prayer is often a struggle for me, if I am honest. This coming from a woman who is constantly asking how and what I can pray on for friends and family. To the woman who used to sit in her church’s war room on Sundays during a service and pray over everyone in that auditorium.

Yes, prayer has become a struggle because I simply cannot find the words beyond a simple, “Lord, be with them.” “Lord, comfort them in their time of grief and need.” “Lord provide in ways only you can.” “Lord, I am sorry.”

That’s about it. Words that don’t seem to have belief behind them. Words that feel dry and rejected being spoken…faith somewhere else than in the One listening to those words.

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A longtime friend recently shared a simple request when prompted for what I could be praying on for them, and so I began to pray these same words over them. Feeling a sense of that God probably wasn’t much into listening to me yet again pander with words what I wasn’t really believing, that He was there and desiring to hear from me. That He could provide and speak into the needs of my intercessions.

So with a loss of words (and I dare say some faith in prayer) I took steps away from time talking to God. I trudged away holding my journal thinking it was all a big waste. It’s then I realized the purposefulness of time spent with Him, a time when I felt unheard and alone that I saw how real God desires a relationship, to hear from me and my heart, the struggles I keep within and those I come to Him with on behalf of others.

But the words still wouldn’t come because it felt weird, like that friend you’ve gone too long in seeing face to face…you aren’t sure where to start or if you can still go deep with them.

So I turned to His Word and what He has said to me and began to pray His truth, affirming it for myself and rejoicing in what He was already doing….

I thank You always concerning my friend for Your grace which was given to them by Christ Jesus, that they are enriched in everything by You in all utterance and all knowledge even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them, so that they come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of You Lord Jesus, that You will also confirm them to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of You. You are faithful, by whom they were called into the fellowship of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

adapted from 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

He has already given us the words when we don’t have them, when we struggle to voice laments, praises, hurts, griefs and sorrows…joy and excitement…all of it. He has given us the words to speak, to pray, to be in relationship with Him when our faith wanes, when the heaviness of this life seems to push down and make us want to trudge away with our own emotions. He speaks, so that we may have the words to come to Him.

This season of words that won’t come is still very present for me, but I also know that to open His Word and pray them over myself, over others, to speak His Name is enough…it’s more than enough because He has provided…He has heard…and He meets me here each and every moment, even in the silence, He knows. So I take up this prayer again…for others, for myself, for Him…to be a part of the relationship I need and He desires for me.

So What? 

You ever worry that maybe God got your plans and someone else’s mixed up? 

Maybe that He got busy with a lot of lives and plans that somehow yours was shuffled into existence in some other person’s life rather than your own? 

I struggled with that for a while, and there are days I think just maybe He flipped my life plan with another’s. Yet I was reminded that my concern is not with someone else’s life (and neither is yours with mine) but it is to be concerned with following Him. Even in that I shouldn’t be worrying over the next thing, the career plan or family plan but should be following Him with full attention. 

His will for me is sure, steadfast and promising. It flows out of Him and embodies every bit of Who He is, and not an ounce of what I think it should be. Yes, He encompasses the personality and gifts that He has given…but ultimately His will for my life is nothing short of obedience to Him. That’s it. It’s not worrying that someone else got that promotion even though they don’t attend church as much as you…or that they seem to be succeeding when you feel like it’s all turning up failures and hiccups. 

I look at Peter, our zealous brother of the Bible. I’m a lot like him some days, and even more so there at the end of John. When I feel like someone else is getting what was meant for me or is favored more than I, I point to them and say, “Hey but what about them??” This is after He’s told me what His will is for me, that He shepherds me and has guided me this entire time I say, but that’s not good enough for me. 

Christ’s response to Peter in at the end of John is the same for you and for me today, when we feel as though our concerns for His plan for others is overtaking us…”What is that to you? You follow me.” 

Oof. 

What if He blesses them and not me? What if they get the thing I desired in my flesh? So what if He does allow that for them? That’s exactly what He’s saying to Peter and to me. So what? I’m to follow Him, period, end of questioning, end of discussion. 

Christ has a mic drop moment with Peter, and if I’m honest, with me. When I heard those words shared by the Vice President of the company I work for, I couldn’t help but feel nudged by God too. Maybe you needed to hear them too today. That so what about them? Just follow Him. Concern yourself with following Him in what He has you in currently, where you’ve found yourself, and not so much about others and where He has them. 

Today may you say So What?  when the pokes of comparison, covetousness or jealousy attempt to sneak in. When concerns try to force their way into your life that are none of your concern, follow Him instead. Make Him the focus rather than the complaint. 

What if Ruth was your call to ministry? To minister to other women, to hearts that were seeing Christ in you? 

I’m reading through the familiar story of her life with a new perspective, new experiences and a God who whispers His truth revealing into my heart at just the right moment…

For me it’s not about Boaz, the widowing or the marriage bond of in-laws. It’s about the women, Naomi especially. God chose to work in her, setting her in a foreign land and then losing the things that would have defined her in context of her land and time. The same we do here, now. Husbands. Children. She was those things. And then she wasn’t.

She was the living God lived out to Orpah and Ruth. She was the God of Israel to women of Moab. One responded and one didn’t. One looked to her life, her God and wanted it so much so that she abandoned all she knew to cling to Naomi, to be in the presence of the God she saw in her. The other went back to what she knew, and we aren’t really sure of her story after that.

But we see the impact of Naomi, of her story. Even in her bitterness she didn’t stray from God. She oversaw her daughter in law, now calling her daughter. She cared for her and her future, a future that didn’t look so great but only asked for faith. Faith in the God Who took her to Moab complete and brought her back empty. Naomi’s faith shone through, even as Ruth sought to glean from a harvest. A harvest God had provided, and knew long before we be pivotal in the story of the lineage of Christ.

Ruth was exercising faith in the simple things because she had seen it lived out by Naomi throughout the good and the very bad. She simply asked to collect God’s provision, and Naomi encouraged her to go and do.

I cannot help but be joyful at this new perspective, of Naomi’s ministry to Ruth, to living out the God of Israel before women who were foreigners, who ended up being family. She loved and lived, even in bad circumstances. She mentored and fostered love in the household in order to bring about God’s provision that He set about far before Naomi could fathom.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me realize the relationships we have with other women is pivotal to our own with Christ. God will use even the bad for His glory and our good. He’s in the small, He provides, if we but be obedient in the simple, the daily steps of faith. It’s a call to minister even when we don’t feel like we can, when we don’t see how any good will come of it, and to allow those women into our lives who desperately want the Jesus they see in us.

 

Well Giddy On Up: A Book Review

I took a bit of a sabbatical from book reviewing for about six weeks this summer. I have read (to date) 26 books since January 1, as my goal for 35 by December 31 looks obtainable. But I had been reading quite a bit on Christian living, dating and leadership over the last few months that I felt the need to breathe and dig in to some candy for my brain.

In doing so, I have consumed far too much fiction in six weeks. I’m currently in the middle of Zoo by James Patterson and will begin the transition back to more focused reading for the fall. I did take some time to read the new book out from Sophie Hudson, better known as BooMama, called Giddy Up, Eunice.

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In reading this book, it feels like you are sitting with Sophie chatting. She’s sharing her stories and thoughts on women of the Bible. Their relationships, how they cared and mentored one another, and how that translates to our relationships now as women in the church (and mostly outside of it).

There were times when I had to put the book away as I felt the tug of a needed relationship in my life that had gone uncultivated. Or when I felt convicted that I wasn’t giving attention and support to women all around me in our relationships. Sophie can catch you right where you are at, and do so unsuspectingly.

This is a great read for women in their 20’s and up as a means of guiding relationships as peers, mentors, and anything in between. It’s a call to women to be in fellowship and see first hand what that looks like from the women in the Bible who’ve gone before in the Lord and shown us the way. Our circumstances may not be in the same context, but here we are thousands of years later, still looking around at the women of our church for community.

It’s something that has gotten after my heart this summer and challenges me to pursue engaging more in some relationships, trusting others that I felt were going distant, and leaning into unsuspecting areas to foster relationships I hadn’t considered. Sophie’s book gives you thoughts to ponder and some applicable steps to take, as she guides you through real life stories from her own eyes and heart.

I highly recommend this book for women’s ministers, small group leaders, Sunday School teachers, basically any female who has friendships with any other females in their lives. It’s something that can be used as a guide, a resource, and even a teaching platform of sorts. Whether you are just coming to the table of Christian friendships, or you’ve been here a long while, we need you because as Sophie says, “We need each other.”


In exchange for this review I received the book at zero cost from B&H Publishing.