Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Friday, 26 February 2016

Dear Friday

This week I am thankful:

+For friends and family who pray for me and mine, and for the opportunity to return the favour. God did not leave us alone; He hears our prayers and gave us a community of faith.

+For an excellent small group in which to participate. The studies we do are thoughtfully chosen and relevant to our lives.

+For godly examples of faith in action like the family behind Hobby Lobby (the Green Family). See the Hobby Lobby decision here.

+For God’s Word, which I am learning to hide in my heart. So often this year already I’ve had reason to use or to share scriptures I’ve memorized. God’s Word is always profitable.

+For quality time with my husband – going out for lunch, attending small group, talking in bed before we turn out the light.

+For a couple of free evenings to do laundry this week. One of those evenings I also watched a movie; the other I read a book.

+For writings by authors like Stuart McLean whose stories are a warm hug whenever you need one.

+For fingerless gloves on sale in colours that go with more outfits. I need them mainly at work because it gets cold there, even inside.

What are you thankful for today?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17a, TLV)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Meet Victoria

It’s the last Thursday of the month, so it must be interview day! Today I’d like you to meet Victoria, a 20-something student, who is single, no children, and living in residence at her school. It’s valuable to get perspective on friendship from people of all different ages, backgrounds and cultures, don’t you agree?
S: Good morning, Victoria! Let’s get right to it. What is your definition of friendship?
Hey, Susan – thanks for letting me share. My definition of friendship is individuals in a group of two or more, who care for and support each other and journey through life together. They may hold similar interests, perspectives, or be at the same stage in life. However, they can also be quite different from each other, but still fit well together, be loyal and help the other to develop and grow. 

S: Wow. Great definition; well thought out. And what characteristics do you look for in a friend?

V: Honesty, loyalty, and trust are important characteristics to look for in a friend. When I'm looking to make a friend I search for someone who will put the same level of dedication in the relationship as I will. I strive to make long-lasting friendships - people who will be there for me and who I can support as well. I also like to have friends who will do fun things with me, who I can get to know, and have deep conversations with. 

S: You mention doing fun things. What do you enjoy doing with your friends? Also, what is your biggest challenge to developing new friendships?
V: Going to movies, out for tea or a meal, playing games like Dutch Blitz or Apples-to-Apples. Horseback riding, skating or hiking with more sporty friends.

One of the challenges I face in developing new friendships results from my introversion. I take a bit longer to get to know people, develop trust and make friends. This can turn off some people who like to make friends quickly. Not everyone will invest the extra time it takes for me to come out of my shell. Thus, most people will see me as shy and quiet, and leave it at that. 

S: As you know, I’m an introvert also. I totally get what you are saying here. But those who do invest the extra time usually find it well worth it.
So, what is your approach to finding/making new friends? Has this worked effectively in your experience?
V: In the environment I am in - whether it is church, college or elsewhere - I try to be involved in some events where I can be social and meet people. This can be coffee houses, movie nights, lunches out, and more. After putting myself out there for a while, I will usually connect with a few people from those events and then can begin developing a closer relationship with those individuals. Generally, this approach has been effective for me. Although, sometimes I need to put in more effort to see the best results. 

S: Do you think you are a good friend to others? Why or why not?

V: I don't want to come across as conceited. However, I do believe that I'm a good friend. I care very deeply about my friends and family. I invest my time and energy into bettering the relationship. I am a good listener and support my friends through the good and bad times. 

S: Sounds like you’re a great friend. And no one here will think you’re conceited; it was a leading question!

Can you think of any friends you could call at 2 a.m. and know that they would be there for you?

V: Yes I can! I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with some great and loyal people. I have a small group of close friends from high school, including one of my best friends, who I know would all be there for me in a heartbeat. Additionally, I've made some new friends recently, who I'm becoming increasingly close with. I know they're caring, thoughtful and supportive. 

S: You’re pretty blessed then. I’m sure there are people in my age category who have those kinds of friends, but for myself I’d be more likely to call a family member if I were in need at that hour of night. Just because most of my friends are married and have children, jobs, etc. and I wouldn’t want to disrupt everyone.

What does your ideal friendship look like and do you feel you’re pretty intentional about making and keeping friends?

V: The best way I can think of to describe my ideal friendship would be to use the analogy of a seesaw in a children's playground. When you use a seesaw, there is a certain amount of trust involved. If one person decides to get up and walk away, the other person comes crashing down to the ground. For friendship to be truly successful, both parties need to be invested in the relationship. Two people who trust and love each other and who think of the other person before themselves. That is what ideal friendship looks like to me. 

I believe I am pretty intentional in making and keeping friends. Friendship means a lot to me - I take it seriously. Therefore, when I become friends with someone, I put a lot of myself into that relationship and strive to make it lasting and fruitful.

S: The seesaw is a great analogy, Victoria. I can see you really put your thinking cap on for this interview and I really appreciate your insightful answers.

Can a friendship run its course? How do you know when it's time to move on?

V: I believe that some friends come into your life for a season, while others last a life time. So yes, in my opinion, a friendship can run its course. In the past I've known it's time to move on from us drifting apart. It can be hard to explain, but sometimes it's my intuition that helps me realize. Friends don't always stay where you are - you change and reach different stages in your life. Also, people move and live farther away from each other. Sometimes you just have to move on and make new friends that are in the same place as you. 

S: That’s very true. In a similar vein, what's the worst thing a friend could do to you?

V: The worst thing a friend can do to me is give me the "cold shoulder". It is the worst when a friend suddenly acts distant, stops talking to me, and/or pulls away, not telling me why. I like to always better myself and would rather be told if I'm doing anything offensive than to continue living in the dark wondering what happened. I am a very sensitive person, so even if the situation is not my fault, I still find myself being self-critical and anxious. 

S: A lot of people prefer to avoid conflict than deal with issues in a relationship. It can be awkward, right? But I think everyone would agree with you that it’s better to be told if there’s a problem “than to continue living in the dark.” Even if the issue isn’t fixable, at least you’re not left wondering.
Just a couple more questions. First, what is your best advice on the subject of friendship?
V: Be dedicated in your friendships. Be real and honest. Have fun, but also know when to be serious. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on when they need you. Above all, show love to the other person. Friendships, like any relationship is a two-way street. The friendship will only be as good as you make it. 

S: Finally, what have you learned about friendship from older people? What do young people have to teach older people about friendship? What do you think of intergenerational friendships?

V: From when I was young, I was learning how to treat others from my parents. Growing up through school, I also had friendships modelled to me by people in groups I attended - church, camp, school, etc. Older people have wisdom to offer those who are younger. They have been "around the block" and have had more life experience. The older and younger generation may not always understand each other. However, older people are only trying to impart wisdom to the younger, so that they avoid the same mistakes that they made.

Additionally, the younger generation have something valuable to offer as well. Young people are who will make up the next world-changers and leaders in society. They have new ways of thinking and perspectives that can benefit the older generation. Older people are more set in their ways, because of living in a certain way for years. However, younger people are more fluid and can change easier. Because of this, they can shed new light on how society should work and how people treat one another. For example, they can share a distinct view on the marginalized, as well as the unethical, inhumane and immoral ways of life that people have overlooked. 

S: I like your mature, balanced response. You recognize the value offered by people in every age category. No one should be written off; there should be respect between the young and the aged and those in between. There is a lot to be said for older women mentoring younger ones, but the older women also gain much from the experience.

Thanks for joining us today, Victoria. All the best in your studies!

V: My pleasure, and thanks again for having me.

And now, dear readers, if you’d care to chime in (and I hope you do!), please leave a comment below. Victoria and I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A to Z Blogging Challenge

I’ve participated in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for the last few years under my old blog, Notes from Innisfree. This is the first year Color Me Writing makes its appearance. If you’re not familiar with it, A-Z runs every April, and is hosted by the incomparable ArleeBird. Well over a thousand bloggers participate and it’s great fun as well as a bit of work.

In essence, over 30 days bloggers take the 26 letters of the alphabet and create a blog post around each one. Last year, for example, I used the theme of decluttering. A was for Attitude, B was for Baby Steps, etc. Some writers use themes as I did, but you could just as easily post on miscellaneous topics. Like Lent, the alphabet runs from Monday-Saturday with Sundays off for good behaviour.

I am currently #481 on the list of participants. Want to join us? Sign up here!

Curious to know: have you done the A-Z challenge before? Will you try it this year? It’s the 7th annual!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Dear Friday

This week’s thankfulness report. I admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to remember what happened; the days fly by in a blur, and I don’t keep a gratitude journal. However, here we go:

+Godly teaching at my church. No tickling of the ears, saying what is politically correct or inoffensive. Loving in tone, which it ought to be (see 2 Timothy 4:3, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Colossians 4:6).

+Thoughtful worship put together by our worship leader and presented with excellence.

+Family Day, celebrated the third Monday of February in Ontario. A chance to get together with family, have a day off from work/school and relax.

+Not having to cook dinner on Saturday or Monday. D and I went to a dinner theatre Saturday night for a combo birthday/Valentine’s celebration; Monday we had Swiss Chalet.

+Opportunities to be silly, including watching hokey old television series like The Love Boat. (I know you’ll cut me some slack – it was Valentine’s weekend, after all).

+Social times with our life group and getting to know the members better through an icebreaker and the Who Said That? board game.

+The basics that we often take for granted: shelter, food, clothing, employment, health, a beautiful family, the ability to cast my cares on God…

What are you thankful for today?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17a, TLV)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Book Review: Balance: a story of faith, family, and life on the line

Author: Nik Wallenda with David Ritz
Publisher: Faith Words, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Inspirational

First Lines:

The first things I notice are the dogs. They’re Cairn terriers, like Toto in The Wizard of Oz, like the terriers that Mom and Dad keep as pets, the warm and fuzzy pups that are part of my clown act. I’m a kid in this dream, a little boy on a journey whose destination is unknown...

Goodreads Description:

Nik Wallenda, "King of the High Wire," doesn't know fear. As a seventh generation of the legendary Wallenda family, he grew up performing, entertaining, and pushing the boundaries of gravity and balance. When Nik was four years old, he watched a video from 1978 of his great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, walking between the towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico, stumbling, and falling to his death because of improper rigging. When Nik heard his father quote his great-grandfather-"Life is on the wire, everything else is just waiting"-the words resonated deep within his soul and he vowed to be a hero like Karl Wallenda. Balance is the theme of Nik's life: between his work and family, his faith in God and artistry, his body and soul. It resonates from him when performing and when no one is looking. When walking across Niagara Falls, he prayed aloud the entire time, and to keep his lust for glory and fame in check, Nik returned to the site of his performance the next day and spent three hours cleaning up trash left by the crowd. Nik Wallenda is an entertainer who wants to not only thrill hearts, but to change hearts for Christ. Christ is the balance pole that keeps him from falling.

My Review:

The fascinating story of Nik Wallenda and the Wallenda circus family. Many will recall hearing the story of Karl Wallenda, Nik’s great-grandfather, who fell to his death walking a tight-rope in Puerto Rico with neither tether nor harness. More will be familiar with Nik’s exploits, including his famous walk across Niagara Falls in 2011. 

Always looking for the next big thing in aerial entertainment, Nik regales readers with stories from Wallenda family lore, as well as of his own growth and development as a high-wire performer. More importantly, though, we discover what drives Nik – a solid work ethic learned from his parents and others in the industry, yes; ego, yes; but most importantly, his utter faith in God and his desire to please and glorify his Maker. Wallenda isn’t perfect, but surrounded by good and godly influences, he strives to learn from his mistakes and to self-improve.

No word on how his father feels about the book post-publication. While Nik totally respects and honours his father (who is no doubt a product of his generation), the book leaves no doubt about the man’s need for control. In fact, the book makes no effort to conceal any family scars, but proposes to heal them with honesty and candor.

Favourite Quotes:

p. 8 “I believe that God gives us the power to transform any story from darkness to light.” 

p. 82 “I have lots of doubts. But I’m not going to let any of them get in my way.”

p. 88 “My spiritual mission is simple – stay focused on the positive. Avoid the toxic energy field of negativity.”

p. 98 “Most people work at a fraction of their potential,” says my mentor Chris Ripo. “Even hard workers like you and I might be utilizing 20 or 30 percent of our potential. That means there’s still another 70 percent of untapped territory.”

p. 114 “I can’t stand it when people use Scripture to win an argument. Scripture isn’t a tool to win a debate. Scripture is about deepening your understanding and love of God—not beating down your opponent.” (said by Nik's wife)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars