My heart friends - Day 1

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My last post was about the hard time I was having with friendships in China and how I desperately longed to have a heart friend here with me. I know that in God's timing He will bring me one of those friends and I wait with hopeful anticipation. But rather than dwelling on what has yet to happen, I want to focus on what God has done for me in the past. You see, in the last 10 or so years God has given to me what I call my "Fab Five"...those 5 wonderful heart friends who have come into my life and left an imprint in my heart. These dear women are my support group and I treasure them dearly. The unique thing about this group is that we are not a group of gals who get together regularly and lean on each other. Rather, these are each different, individual relationships in which I share common bonds. I thought I would share a little about each of these heart friends with you over the next few days and why I treasure each of them so dearly. I only wish I could share photos to go along with each post but I'm not that computer goal is to work on changing that after my summer holiday!!

Lisa R. - I met Lisa when I was living in Victoria, Texas in 1994. We were both first year teachers and were required to attend a class for newbies in the school district. As we talked in class we realized we had a lot in common....we were both newly married, both just moved to Victoria, and both married to engineers. My husband and I had just moved out of the same apartment complex she and her husband were living in and we seemed to just hit it off. We decided to get together with our husbands one evening to hang out. It was a night we will always remember. While we were eating dinner, the infamous O.J. Simpson car ride on the highway in California was happening. Rather than spend time talking and getting to know one another better, we followed that white Bronco all night! We still laugh about that now. That was the start of a friendship that has lasted to this day. Lisa and I would end up teaching next door to each other, go to church and do Bible study together, have kids close in age (who love each other dearly), and eventually became the sisters we never really had growing up. Our families have been separated by distance both near and far, but none of that has broken the bond that was formed so long ago. We have even started the tradition of vacationing together in the summer at the Frio River in the Hill's a great time together playing games (her husband, John and I have intense Scrabble competitions and everyone knows to stay away when those are underway!), having campfires, and of course, tubing the river no matter how high or low it may be! I'm so grateful for this friendship that God has given to me. I have learned so much from her and can't imagine what life would be like without her. We don't get to talk as much as we used to, but when we do it's like we never missed a beat. So what is it about Lisa that is so dear to me? She is a strong woman who can handle whatever comes her way. She is "mechanically" smart and can do things I could never do! She is a wonderful wife and mother. She loves God and strives to follow Him with all her heart, mind, and strength. Like me, she loves to read and to watch Lost. She is a very generous and giving person. Although she is 7 months older than me, she is way cooler and more hip than I will ever be! She is very creative and artistic. She is always willing to try new things or activities just for the fun of it!

I could go on and on....after 13 years of friendship we have been through a lot so there is plenty to write about. I think you can see why I love her so much. God is good isn't He?!

I will continue my list of heart friends on Wednesday (I have to go to Shanghai tomorrow!). Next on the list.....sweet Susie.

A time to share

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I've been in a funk. Pride has kept me from sharing what has brought me so low. I didn't say anything because I didn't want anyone to "feel sorry for me" nor did I want anyone to think that I was unhappy with my life here. But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and start at the beginning....

When we first moved to China in August I knew I didn't really fit in because I was one of very few Christians in our housing complex and in our company. It was hard to be around people who acted and thought so differently from me, but survival necessitated that I befriend these people. Please don't get me wrong....they are not awful people, just lost people. That was what made it so difficult because most of my adult life has been spent in a church bubble. I figured God was just trying to stretch me out of my comfort zone, so I continued to hang around these people. I didn't feel like God was using me to change them, but rather using them to change me. However, I knew I needed to be careful not to follow their ways and ensnare myself so I slowly began to pull myself away. I would do things with them on occassion, but for the most part I tended to do things by myself. For awhile I was good with that, but then something happened. I slowly began to realize that my self-imposed seclusion was a lonely place to be. It began to seriously depress me...thus, the lack of communication on my part. I began to feel so out of place, like a third wheel, in every social situation. I would hear women talk about their families having dinner together, or I would see groups of women together laughing and having fun and I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I began to feel like something was wrong with me. All of this was really taking its toll on me and almost became an obsession. I would cry out to God and ask why...why was I left out? why couldn't I have just one heart friend here? why was I in this lonely wilderness? Day after day I would pour out my heart to Him and afterwards I would feel better for awhile, but then the enemy would pour salt on my wound again. It was a cycle that seemed to go on for weeks! God always comforted me through His Word and I knew that I would get through it somehow. Then one day I was reading a Psalm about the Israelites in the wilderness (I could really relate to that one!). Half way through the passage a verse caught my eye and I knew God meant it for me personally. It was summarizing the Israelites' needs in the desert and that they asked God to help them and He supplied the manna and the quail. I realized at this point that all I had done in my situation was cry about being lonely, yet I had failed to ask God to actually send a friend. Immediately I began to pray and ask God to forgive me for my self-pity and to please send a heart friend to me here in China. Oh what a burden rolled off my was amazing. My spirits lifted and I walked with hope that in time God would bring someone here.

Not too many days later we were invited to a birthday party for one of my husband's co-workers. I didn't really want to go as everyone would be drunk and that wasn't my idea of fun. I seemed to have a hard time visiting with everyone and I just wanted to go home. The rest of the night I wrestled with my emotions and I couldn't understand how God could throw us into the deep end of the "lost" pool. How did He ever expect me to survive with them for another year and a half? The only thing that kept me from spiraling back down into despair was the hope that I was clinging to that God would bring another Christian that I could befriend soon and that I wouldn't have to always depend on these other people for companionship. The next day I was reading the end of a wonderful book, Hinds' Feet in High Places. I came to the part in the story that talked about the main character having reached the High Places and then she looked down at the place and the people she had left behind and their despondent condition. She longed to go back to them and lead them to the Shepherd and help them out of their dismal states. As much as she loved being in the High Places (kinda like a church bubble), she knew that her place was among those who were without hope. That's when it dawned on selfish desire for another Christian friend and my lack of concern and compassion for the people I was surrounded by was not how I should be thinking or acting. I was only thinking of myself, my comfort, my desires. Upon this realization I cried and cried. I told Clint that I had this whole thing wrong in that rather than isolating myself from these people I needed to be loving them and leading them to the Savior. I thought I had my burden rolled away before, but now I knew that God was showing me true deliverance through this situation. He put a new song in my heart and gave me a new perspective about the relationships I have here in China. Like I said before, I know that God is using these people to change me but I also believe in my heart that at the right time He will use me as a voice to speak for Him to them. For now I am praying for them earnestly every day and waiting on God and His perfect timing. I still believe that He will also bring me another Christian friend here, and when she comes I will praise God for His goodness and faithfulness to me.

Thank you for letting me share this story with you. It wasn't easy for me to do, but I knew I had to do it. I'll keep you posted on how things are going... I just won't wait so long to do it.

Nothing to say!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hello friends! Yes, I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything....but last week was May holiday for us here in China and I had my lovely daughters keeping me company at home! Needless to say my time to write was limited, that was if I could even get on the computer. We had a nice time but didn't do much really. Most everyone else left on a vacation which meant that all their friends were gone. And with most of China on holiday as well, we didn't want to go into town with all the crowds. I told my husband I will never stay home on a holiday again!!

But that's not the only reason I haven't written. I seem to have a slight case of writer's block. I literally have nothing to say...which is really kind of scary! I keep thinking about that Brady Bunch episode where Carol, the mom, was trying to write an article about her family for a magazine and no matter how hard she tried, nothing came out! I know how she feels now. Maybe my brain is just on overload....I'm trying to schedule our 7 weeks home "tour" this summer, helping with the school carnival, updating our family blog with our Australia pics, and hoping to complete a digital photo album. And that's all just extra stuff going on!!! Please pray that God would give me the words to share and that I would not let myself get so overworked this last month here that I miss out on the things I really enjoy (like writing on this blog).

I just thought I'd write a short note and explain my "absence"...hope to talk with you again soon!