Archives For friendship
By Angie Faulstich
There is a danger in becoming a parent. After I bundled up my newborn and took him into my home, that wee little one took over my entire world. It took all of my effort and more strength than I thought I had to keep my little guy alive.
From midnight feedings to mid-afternoon snacks, my mission was to keep my little one fed, dry, warm, and safe. But, as time has passed, Aidan is becoming more and more independent, and he needs me a little less with each passing day.
After an extended break from school over the Christmas holidays, Aidan went back to school, and a large chunk of my heart left with him. The loss feels like- well, to be honest, it feels like you may just as well have carved out a piece of my heart with a spoon.
That’s how it felt in the beginning as well. His first semester of kindergarten did not go well for me. I felt alone and lost, without a purpose. I grew tired of spending my days alone at home. And while still not sleeping well most of the time, I just felt tired. So as the days of Christmas break came to a close and there were no more snow days or 2 hour delays in sight, I began to fear that the emptiness would return.
It was an emptiness that could not be filled by anything of this world. Not hobbies that I enjoy. Not my favorite foods. Not entertaining movies- even the good clean ones. Not even the thought of taking on a job outside of the home could fill the empty hole in my heart.
My life lay before me as a beautiful tapestry cut into a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle was finished save one last piece that should have filled a hole near the center of the picture. And as hard as I searched, high and low, around the puzzle, on the floor, inside the box, in the cabinet from which the puzzle came, I could not find the missing piece. It was lost. And I could not fill the empty hole in my heart that I knew had been stolen from me when my son went away to school, and I was no longer needed.
I sunk into bed after their first day back to school, and I cried, “Lord, I cannot live alone anymore. I feel like I’ve been left behind. There is emptiness in my soul that I cannot fill, and I do not want to be alone anymore.”
And then startling words flooded into the cavern of my soul. From somewhere deep within, I heard the words: “You don’t have to be alone.”
Instantly, I knew He was right. The Savior of my soul was the missing piece of the puzzle. And it suddenly dawned on me. No matter what stage of life I find myself in. No matter whether my children are home or away at school. No matter where in the world I find myself, as I often dream of traveling and going on great adventures. No man, child, friend, food, or entertainment can ever become the missing piece in my puzzle. For if they do, I have left myself in grave danger and in desperate need of the only One who can ever fill the missing piece of my heart- and that is Jesus.
He has now promised to walk with me through these days of uncertainty. And I will each and every morning invite Him to lead me through them. And somehow now I feel hope. Hope that one day I will feel whole again. Peace that He will mend my broken heart. That He is and always will the missing piece to my puzzle. If I make Him that piece, I will be whole.
I just have to keep inviting Him in, and I can’t let anything else take His place.
Is there an emptiness in your life that needs to be filled? Is God the piece that is missing?
My incredible guest writer today is Angie Faulstich. Angie is a child of God, a mother of two bright and wonderful sons, and a wife to an amazing husband. She is the author of a weekly newspaper column entitled “Finding Peace” that encourages readers to turn to God for all of their needs so that they, too, may experience everlasting peace.
© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson
I’m not a fan of resolutions. As I think about the changes I would like to make in the coming year, I feel like a failure for not achieving those changes in the past year….again. And beginning the year feeling like a failure is a sure-fire way for my resolutions to fizzle out…….again.
Rather than making resolutions, I spend some time reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and I encourage you to do the same. Look through pictures or the calendar to aid in remembering all that was achieved in the past year.
Did you get the oil changed in the car? Did you clean out a drawer or closet this past year or spring clean a certain % of the house? What books did you read? Did you do a bible study, pray daily, or do devotions? Did you learn to take care of your body by staying properly hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water a day? How did your family spend time together? Did you participate in a canned food drive?
By contemplating on accomplishments made, you will realize the successfulness of the past year and be ready to build on those achievements this year.
Review the past year in the following areas and make goals in each area for this year:
How did you grow personally in this past year?
- What books did you read? Recreational reading is also important as we need time to relax and recharge.
- Did you do a bible study/specific devotions/read the bible in a year/etc.?
- Did you pray daily or most days of the week or month?
- Did you enjoy any of your hobbies or do things you like during your free time?
- Did you develop your strengths or weaknesses by taking a class, finding a mentor, seeing a counselor, or reading specific books?
- Did you ever give more than take?
Were any lifestyle changes made?
- Did you drink more water?
- Did you cut back on soda?
- Did you limit sweets to once a week?
- Did you only go out to eat only 3-4 times a month?
- Did you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables?
- Did you decrease your plate portions?
- Did you find a few activities to love and do to stay active?
What investments were made in your family?
- Did you enjoy any family nights?
- Did you plan and do any activities during the Summer or holidays/weekends?
- Did your family go on vacation or spend any weekends away together?
- Did your family do any mission or volunteer work together?
- Did you study the bible as a family or one on one as parent/child?
- Did you tell your family members you love them regularly?
- Did you hug your child often?
How did you give of your time and money?
- Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or with another organization?
- Did you go on a mission trip (domestic or international)?
- Did you donate unneeded items to a local mission?
- Did you supply canned goods to local food bank?
- Did you support a missionary/favorite cause/organization/family in need financially?
- Did you make a meal (freezer or fresh) or provide a gift card for friends or family going through a difficult time?
Organize and clean
How did you take care of your house and property?
- Did you clean out or organize any cabinets, drawers, or closets?
- Did you clean out the garage?
- Did you clean up or add anything new to the landscaping?
- Did you clean out or organize toys?
- Did you clean out any files?
- Did you add pictures to any albums?
- Did you do any car maintenance?
Were any positive changes made regarding your finances?
- Did you pay off any credit cards?
- Did you use coupons?
- Did you make a budget?
- Did you take advantage of sales rather than pay full price?
- Did you save any money?
- Did you eat at home rather than eat out?
This is not an all-inclusive list so please feel free to add your own questions or areas.
In order to realize success in these areas this year, white space will need to be created on the calendar.
How do you spend your time daily? Can less be spent on social media or watching TV? Can you travel less for work or cut overtime hours? Is getting up earlier a possibility? A shorter lunch may provide some time to perform a few tasks. Are there any other areas that can be cut back to realize your goals this year? Decide on priorities and fill in the calendar with those first.
Did you do all that is on this list and will you be able to carry out all you set out to do this year? Probably not. And that’s okay. All growth and achievements are something to be celebrated no matter how small.
Even if you’ve never realized your success in the past, I urge you to recognize it now.
I would love to hear what you plan to accomplish this year! Please share in the comments below.
© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson
I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides. Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing. I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.
When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time. She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.
When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later. She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.
While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on. She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children. She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.
She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.
As she opened her heart, shame filled my own. The pain on her face was evident. And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.
The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart. Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has needs. Everyone needs love.
This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had. I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.
I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.
I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection. When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.
So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.” Let’s counter that by “building up.”
There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”
First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.
People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image. Each has value and worth.
Second, we need to do something.
In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot. For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day. If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side. He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea. He never counseled, advised, or pried. He just offered a smile and an invitation.
Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600. Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.
Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need. Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word. It’s pretty simple.”
What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?
At the very least we will bring a boost to their day. But we may just save a life in the process.
Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?
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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson