Sacrificial Friendship

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After a couple weeks of a pinched nerve problem in my upper back, neck and shoulder flaring up and causing hand and arm numbness,  today it was frustratingly worse.  Then the day took an interesting turn.  A friend who had obtained a free coupon for me last winter for a beginning consultation at her chiropractor, by “chance”, called.  Though she is a dear friend, we have not connected in over a month, and she was not aware that my intensive gardening endeavors this June have left my right hand numb more often than not.  However, when we DO find time to connect, it is real, and it is intentional.

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Because she has been back to her chiropractor recently due to some back pain, she  discovered that I had never gone to him.  When she called today, she inquired as to why.   I explained that, though I appreciated the coupon, I had not wanted to start something that I couldn’t carry through.  I suspect the knots under my shoulder blades that have been causing problems for over ten years may be stubborn and require more visits than I can afford and my husband or daughter do some occasional and pretty skilled massaging.   (And I have a wonderful chair massager, though it sometimes feels more like abuse!)  She  insisted that I go anyway, and if it can be helped by her doctor, she wants me to have a couple of her remaining prepaid visits.  Now that is humbling.

help from friends

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A verse comes to mind that we just had in our Sunday School class yesterday while we were studying the ten commandments.  Though the first four commandments are vertical and pertain to our relationship with God, the last six are horizontal and pertain to our relationships to others.  The last six can be summed up in  Mark 12:31 – “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other command greater than these.”

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While I am always very grateful for my family’s help when I need it, I am also thankful to have a few friends who intentionally pursue this kind of love and are not afraid to drink deeply of friendships.   It is not the first time a friend has shown sacrificial love and I find no greater pleasure than to reciprocate with encouragement, support, help or whatever I can.  No matter what help I get or don’t get, it is nice to know I have those kinds of friends.  Today, it lightens my step, or should I say, makes my neck pain and hand numbness more tolerable.  Most of all, it reminds me I have that kind of God, who connects with me, personally, through my friends.  He is  the truest source of the best kind of  love.    He inspires us, and yes, commands us to love selflessly.

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Morning Musings in the Gardens

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I don’t know if it was dew or raindrops from last night’s rain nestled in the elephant ear, but it puts me in mind of the hymn “I Come to the Garden Alone“:

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

It’s the perfect place to read a devotional and then dig a little deeper.  Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts devotional #16 has some good stuff about why Daniel, the keen, fit, strong, courageous character who went into the lion’s den and came out unscathed, may have come into such miraculous grace.  Daniel had alot of ingredients for a pity party, after all he was brought out of his country against his will,  but he didn’t spend much time bemoaning his lot. He proved himself, not only above staying in a pit, but beyond the reach of a power grab by rejecting the king’s offers of power and riches as a reward.   Most of our politicians, and maybe each one of us,  would do well to read that portion of scripture each morning.

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Daniel’s  jealous political comrades could not find any corruption or negligence in him, despite every effort.   His circumstances never changed his grateful heart, even when his future looked even more unstable than his difficult past.   “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving THANKS to his God, just as he had done before.”  (Daniel 6:10) This was by his open window even after it was made illegal.  I wonder what he focused his eyes on when they weren’t closed in prayer.  Long range vision was toward Jerusalem, his home he had been torn from.  But close up?  Maybe a bird or flower?  His window was open.  I wonder if he could smell honeysuckle or lavender.  Or whatever delightful aromatic plants grew in Babylon.

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But, back to Voskamp and thankfulness, “the only way to be a man or woman of prayer is to be a man or woman of thanks.  And not sporadic, general thanks, but three times a day eucharisteo.   When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.  This, this, makes me full, and I ‘magnify him with thanksgiving’, and God enters the world.  What will a life magnify?  The world’s stress cracks, the grubbiness of a day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted?  Or God?”

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I choose God and the pleasant little things He lets me see, if I will but look.   And I have let God enter my world again today to carry me through the less than glamorous moments that will, undoubtedly, arise.  What things will you focus on and magnify today?

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