Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Revisiting the Marina's Kitchen Table Archives - #8

I recently found the hard drive of all my first posts, writing in a Yahoo Group called Marina's Kitchen Table. It was the same thing as here, but perhaps a little more devotional in writing, as I leaned hard on God during a really difficult season in life. 

I'm sharing those first writings again, as we make another move, and I anticipate my time at the computer to be more focused on getting the work done on that handbook on Missionary Care. 

I hope that you enjoy these entries as much as I do. I have NO idea where this journey will go, as I was as irregular a writer then as I am now! :)  Some things never change! 

Be blessed!
Marina
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When I moved from Southern CA to Georgia, not only did I leave all of my family, but a lifetime of friendships too. To top it off I knew not one person in Georgia, with the exception of the realtor that showed us houses, and the man my husband would share an office with. 

My children were young (1 and 2 1/2) and I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. Mark was traveling on the road, and was determined to get established in his new position before this child was born, so he could take the time off to help me following the c-section we knew I needed to have. I even changed OB's, to deliver with an almost stranger in (of all places) Snellville. The adventure was wonderful. The turmoil was not. More than anything I wanted the security and comfort of the friendships that I had known in California. When I petitioned God about this, He had a pleasant surprise in store!

Since we moved to an outside area of a growing city, there were several churches for us to try. Unfortunately, they were MUCH more formal than the churches we had known "back home", where you could get away with wearing shorts and a t-shirt on any Sun. AM. Mark frequently stated that he couldn't go to a church where the 3 year olds were dressed in more expensive suits than what he owned! It didn't fit us right. We decided to "bite the bullet" and travel the 30 miles to attend a "non-denominational" church that was a part of the same church family we had attended in CA. Although there wasn't a familiar face in the small crowd, it was like coming home. What a blessing.

Although we determined that to be our "home church", the biggest blessing was the way that they accepted us as a part of their family.
My sister was able to come from CA to help me with my kids (while Mark shuffled from home to hospital) and a group of women scheduled meals for us upon my return home. Shortly after Jason was born they threw a shower for us, and we were barely acquainted  Now please remember that this was not my neighborhood group, but they had to travel the 30 miles (sometimes more!) to get to my house. Not once did anyone grumble, and it made it so much more pleasurable for us when we were at church, as folks often invited us to stay on Sunday's between services, so we wouldn't have to make the drive back and
forth. It was our initiation into a society of "southern hospitality", even though some of our new friends hadn't been in GA much longer than we! God had given them a mindset of friendship, and they obeyed the call to "show hospitality to strangers", something I will always remember.

The 2 other moves we made were not as wonderful. Moving to SW Missouri has been the hardest, and I still say that after living here for 9 1/2 years! I am grateful for every friend that God has given me, here and abroad. I have learned some wonderful things in the process.

1. Friendship can be a season. Just like there is a season for "everything under the sun", our friendships can run in seasons too. I have one friend that I see all spring, but rarely any other time. Oh, we call eachother occasionally, but our friendship blooms while our sons play baseball together. I would not rather cheer next to anyone, and we relate to the joys (and frustrations) of our team, whether we are sitting in the bleachers during the games, or walking the trails in the park during the practices. Yet if there is an emergency, she is there for me, no matter what the season.

2. Friendship does not apply to the "bigger is better" rule. Most of the scriptures that I find friendship in, popularity is not recommended. God advocates small groups, and often it is one or two friends that makes the impact. Notice what He says in Eccl.4:9-12. He
relates our labor, our recovery from trials, the provision of warmth, and the safety of two. Not a group of 20, just 2. How amazing that just 2 of us can make such a big difference in the world! Even I can handle that!

3. Friends are just people, who sometimes make mistakes and let us down, just like everyone else. This was an important one to learn in my marriage, as well as my other friendships. It is an important fact that we emphasize in our pre-marital counseling. I can not meet my husbands needs. It's not in me. Mark can not meet my needs either. BUT God can equip Mark to meet my needs, and He can equip me to meet Mark's needs, IF both of us keep coming back to the Father to get what we need to give each other. (got it?) It's the same thing in our other friendships. Our major relationship is our friendship with God, His Son Jesus, and "the Great Comforter" the Holy Spirit. If we can enrich our relationship with our Creator, then all of our other earthly relationships will fall into place. Accepting them where they are to be may take prayer and obedience, but if we are relying on God, we will find contentment. It may not be the crowd I've always imagined that I would "run" with, but if God equips us to minister to each other, and meet each other's needs, that's where I want to hang out!

4. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (or sister?). I love my family, but they are not always the one's that God allows to minister to me (and we don't often receive our sibling's advice well, do we?) Who was it that said, "We can choose our friends, but we can't choose our family?" My best friends (mentors) will always tell me what God wants me to hear, not what I want to hear. Sometimes our families love us too much to be honest with us. That's why God gave us friendship.

I pray that your friendships may be refreshed with the season of spring. I look forward to the surprises that God gives me through friendship, and the blessings that will bloom. Know that even when we feel like we don't have a friend in the world, we do. Jesus longs to be with us through everything we experience. There have been so many times that I have prayed "God, I'm lonely. Please bring me a friend!" He has never let me down! That prayer has been answered by the gift of Theresa (found on a basketball bleacher between games), by Christine (given to me as a response to an ad for babysitting), by Mary Beth (given to me in the school secretary's office), by Charlotte (who was actually an answer to prayer for a "mom" type person for my life, and sat behind me in church for a year before we got to be "family") and through Denise (who was actually a blessing waiting for the right time to bloom!) Are these my only friends? NO WAY! But they are wonderful examples that blessings come when we least expect them, and are usually not in the places that we expect to find them.


Remember the old saying, "It takes a friend to be a friend!" It's true. So be a friend to a stranger today!