"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 15, 2009
I remember my Grannie Horton quoting the scripture from Proverbs 18:24 many times. "A man who has friends must show himself to be friendly." I don't particularly remember her reason or purpose for quoting those words, but recollect her saying that fairly often.
There is a good message behind that scripture. If we want friends, then we need to be a friend to others. We can't expect others to want to spend time with us or befriend us, if we don't open ourselves up to them and give them opportunity to get to know us.
I've heard people who rarely attend church, comment that the reason they don't go to church is because the people just aren't friendly. But I've also been in attendance when those people show up at church. They walk in late, after the service has already started; or else get there at the very last minute, right as it is about to begin. Then they leave as quickly as possible, as soon as the service is over; or else leave during the closing prayer. How do they expect people to talk to them or welcome them? They gave no one opportunity to be friendly or make contact. In such cases, they are intentionally putting themselves in a position for people not be given a chance to speak to them, in order to have an excuse for not attending church.
Recently, I attended a funeral for an older gentleman. I was unable to attend the visitation the previous evening, but apparently the funeral chapel had been packed with people coming to pay their respects. The wife commented to their pastor that she was so shocked that so many people were there. She told him, "We didn't think we had any friends!"
When I heard that, I thought, "How sad that someone would go through their entire life, not realizing how many people truly liked and respected them; thinking that they had no friends." The wife got to see who all came, and how many people counted her husband as a friend and loved one. But did her husband really die not knowing how many friends he had or how well liked he truly was? Did he really think that he had no friends? That is so sad!
The pastor's comment to her was, "The reason you all didn't realize how many friends you had is because you all were so stubborn and independent that you wouldn't ever let anyone help you." There were people in the church and community who would have loved to reach out and offer support and encouragement and aid during the husband's long illness, but the couple refused to allow anyone to help them. If you refuse people enough times, they will soon quit offering to befriend you. Then you end up feeling alone and friendless.
What it boils down to is pride. We don't like to label it as such, but at times we wear our independence and self-reliance like a badge of honor. We refuse to admit when we need a helping hand. We refuse the gift of friendship from others, unless it's on our terms. We are too full of ourselves to accept gifts or a helping hand from other people. We have a prideful heart that has walls built around it. We "humbly" do for others, but often want someone to know what we did. But we can't humble ourselves to accept the helping hand of friendship from other people. We feel as if we are giving up our independence when we do.
That goes back to the scripture, "A man who has friends must show himself to be a friend to others." That not only means that you are willing to reach out and lend a hand to others, but that you are willing to accept a helping hand and friendship from others when they extend it to you. Too many people want to always be the ones who help, but never will allow anyone to reciprocate and extend friendship and love in return. They are the first one to step out and volunteer to give aid, but are so independent and stubborn that they refuse to allow anyone to give aid or help them.
A couple of my sisters and I were talking about how we wanted our funerals done when we die and who we wanted to speak. One of my sisters mentioned that her husband has been her pastor for so many years, that she has been trying to think of who she would want to preach her funeral, and she can't think of anyone. Not that any of us are planning on dying anytime soon, but it never hurts to be prepared.
I mentioned how I want my funeral done; which is very untraditional and unconventional. My wishes have to do with parts of funerals that are hard for me to deal with. Also, I don't want a sermon preached at my funeral (I know, hard to believe with as many preachers as I have in my family!), or have it to be real serious and sad. Okay, I do want a few tears to be shed (I'd hate to think that everyone was glad to see me go)! But I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life, and I want there to be some laughter, and lots of food.
So when I die, doing the visitation with the open casket the night before is fine, so everyone can say, "Doesn't she look good!" or "She looks so natural lying there!" (Okay, a little sarcasm there, but that seems to be the comments people tend to make. Like how natural can a dead person look?! I hope I look better alive than I do lying in a casket with pancake makeup on and my lips and eyes glued shut!) Jon has told me that if I die before he does, that he's going to have me buried in my housecoat, because that seems to be what I'm the most comfortable wearing. And I told him absolutely no shoes or socks! I don't want to lie there with my feet all bound up in shoes; I'd rather be bare-foot. Okay I digressed a little; now back to my funeral plans. The day of the funeral, I want the graveside service done first, to get that part over with. Leave the casket there, and everyone go back to the church. Then I want it to be casual, and let people remember me and tell stories, and laugh and cry, and talk about those memories of goofy things I said or did. That's the last thing I want them to think about and remember about me. Not the sadness and saying goodbye, but laughing and talking about my life; and hopefully remembering some of the good things I've done. Then afterwards, I want everyone to stay and have a big potluck meal together. Family dinners and church dinners are some of my fondest memories, and that's how I want the memorial service to end; a celebration with lots of eating and visiting.
One of my sisters was joking, and asked me if I really thought that that many people would be able to think of things to say about me. She said she was afraid if she had that done at her funeral, that no one would be able to think of anything to say about her. Honestly, yes, I really do believe that people will have lots of things to talk about, regarding my life. I'm not being a braggart or full of myself. But I know that I have a lot of friends and family, and have shared a lot of good times and laughter with them. Now granted, if I don't die until I'm 90, most of those family and friends will already be gone, but that just means that I need to make new memories and cultivate friendships with the younger generations.
Friendships are one of the greatest blessing we can have in life. It's knowing that there are people we can call on in any given situation, and they will be right there at any given moment. It's also knowing that there are those we can trust explicitly. Having those individuals we can call and say, "I really need prayer about a certain situation;" and know that they will pray for you. Knowing that regardless of what may happen in your life or in your family, they won't judge or condemn, but will stand beside you and give you support and love. It's having those people you can sit around with, and laugh and share good times with. Life would be empty and lonely without friends.
Proverbs 17:17 tells us, "A friend loves at all times." A true friend is not going to stab you in the back or gossip about you. They won't hear something about you, then go around being a talebearer, spreading rumors. But a true friend will love you at all times, in all circumstances. And if you are a true friend, you will love others at all times, in all circumstances. You cannot say that you love someone and are their friend, then say hurtful or spiteful things about them.
A true friend is like a special treasure, that you cherish and take care of. We all have keepsakes that have great meaning to us. It may be something that was passed down to us from a parent or grandparent, or something special that our spouse or kids gave us. When we see those "treasures", we remember who they came from, and we cherish them. We wouldn't give them up for any amount of money. We dearly hold onto those things and make sure they are taken care of. It's that same way with our special friends. We cherish and love those treasured individuals, and protect our friendships with them.
If you find yourself in a position where you feel alone, without friends, check to see if you are being a friend to others.
May we each find our lives filled with the blessing of many friendships.
We've all heard, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." The hardest part of that is being good to someone who is unpleasant. If they smile, or act friendly, it's much easier to treat them the way you like to be treated.
The same goes with making friends. It's tough to be friendly to people who aren't friendly first. I can't picture myself walking up to a stranger who looks grumpy and asking them to join us at lunch. But when someone is down, it's probably the most important time to reach out. Even if they refuse, at least they know that someone tried.
Even though I don't think I could manage that, I do try to make an effort to smile, look people in they eyes, and look friendly. It works.
Fresh Blueberry Peach Crisp
5-6 peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices or chunks
2-3 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. Lemon juice
Butter or yellow cake mix, dry
1 stick butter
Mix the fruit, cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice together. Pour into a 9x13 pan (I use an 8x11). In a bowl mix the dry cake mix and butter until crumbly (a fork or pastry cutter works well). (If you cut the butter into chunks, it will mix easier.) Spread evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake on 350 for 50-60 minutes, until browned on top and bubbly.
Is best eaten when warm with vanilla ice cream.
My sisters and I are all very close. During the year we all lead busy lives, and although some of us may see each other fairly often, it's not always easy to find time to all get together. So several years ago, we decided that we were going to make a point to always get together for a couple days each summer for some "sister time". Occasionally, we have taken a short trip somewhere together, and other times we gather at one of our homes. No husbands or kids are allowed, because this is our special time to be together as sisters.
Some of my best memories are of things that happened when we were together. We always talk a lot and laugh a lot. And probably most of the things that we laugh about and find humorous, are things that no one else would find funny. Afterwards, I will be sitting at home and thinking about some of the things we laughed about, and get tickled again and sit laughing all by myself. Since I've been married, I will try to tell Jon about it, and he might smile and give a courtesy laugh, but really doesn't see why I find it so funny. I've heard my sisters tell their kids about things we found humorous, and they don't see what's so funny either. Their comment usually is along the lines, "You and your sisters are so weird!"
This past weekend when we got together, my sisters and I were reminiscing about the old Jones Trading Post Store, which was located about a half mile from our home when we were growing up. I walked over and sold many a pop bottle there when I was a little girl, and used the money I got for a candy bar or pop. I'm sure the owner bought lots of glass pop bottles from all the neighborhood kids. I was asking how the front entrance was back then, and my sisters were remembering how the inside of the store was laid out. One of my sisters mentioned that they had lunchmeat that you could have them slice and buy by the pound. We were sitting there thinking about the store. Out of the blue, one of my sisters said, "I'd like a pound of bologna." Then changing her voice she said, "How do you want that sliced?" I'm not sure she realized that she was talking out loud, but had been thinking about it and voiced her thoughts. But when she said that, it struck us all funny and we laughed and laughed. Telling about it doesn't sound that funny; it was one of those "had to be there" moments.
Several years ago, we went to Mansfield, MO to Laura Ingalls Wilder's home and museum, and saw a bunch of farms off the road that were Amish. I was driving, and they wanted me to drive down past the farms. So I headed down this one-lane dirt road. An Amish buggy started heading down the road towards us. There was no way that the two vehicles could pass each other, so I had to back up all the way down the dirt road to the entrance, so I could turn around.
Most of our laughs come from one of us saying something, not intending it to be funny, but it coming out wrong.
Having sisters is such a blessing and so much fun!!
It's better to try and fail, then never to have tried at all.
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon