Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Gift of Friendship

Stories That Celebrate The Beauty of 
Shared Moments
Whether next door or in the next time zone, our friends provide some of our most important relationships. We cherish time spent with them, bemoan time spent apart, and look forward to the next time we can have coffee or rush to greet them as they walk toward our door. And nothing warms our hearts like stories of true friendship.
Collecting over fifty true stories from some of today best writers, Dawn Camp offers readers a chance to sit back and experience the gift of friendship. With its beautiful photographs and poignant prose, this collection is a great gift for a dear friend and the perfect pick-me-up any time you need a boost. Contributors include Crystal Paine, Liz Curtis Higgs, Tsh Oxenreider, Myquillyn Smith, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Lisa-Jo Baker, Jessica Turner, Lysa TerKeurst, Bonnie Gray, Holley Gerth, Renee Swope, and many more.

The Gift of Friendship: Stories That Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments 
Published February 16th 2016
 by Fleming H. Revell Company
5 Stars  

February 2016 Desktop Calendar


Tentatively emerging from an emotional and spiritual dry spell, the kind that tests both 
faith and friendships, I pay particular attention to Christian comedian Anita Renfroe’s
story on the radio on this Sunday morning drive to church.
Anita’s live performances have a way of breaking down barriers. Laughter does that. She describes a moment in each show when no arms remain crossed and the audience has become loose and relaxed—disarmed.  At the meet and greets that follow her shows, Anita hears a similar story, again and again: I didn’t want to come here tonight, but my sister/
best friend/husband made me. Maybe a spouse recently passed away. Or a child. Maybe
 a battle with disease or depression has left wounds that gape too wide to imagine they
 could ever be filled. Against their will they come—to make someone else happy—and sit in their so-numb-it’s-become-comfortable shell and listen until a tiny  crack appears. And then
 it happens: they laugh. Probably guiltily at first—you can be so entrenched in sorrow that
it feels disloyal to shake it loose—but then they allow their spirit to infuse with joy and laugh deep and long. It’s in that moment that they know:I will make it. I will be okay.
After church I sit down to lunch with two women who’ve been my friends for over twenty years. I believed that friendships like these could weather any storm, but recent months
cast long shadows and honestly, I just want to walk in the sunshine again. Conversation begins gingerly—we’ve learned to tiptoe, to avoid the cracks—until we find that place only
accessible through years of shared experiences and the deepest of friendships. It feels like home. We talk of life goals that are out of our reach and body changes that are out of our control, and our conversation gets a little naughty, in the oh-so-mild version of the word
that might be expected of forty- and fifty-something ladies sitting at a table in the church fellowship hall. We grin wide and our laughter rings so loud, so true, it attracts attention.
People smile and nod at us because they know what I’ve only just realized. We’re going to make it. We’re going to be okay.
God used this season while I worked on this book about friendship to show me how important friendship is in my life and how hard I will fight to keep it alive. I’ve disagreed with
friends on deep issues, and even when no one switched sides we held fast to each other and proved our relationships weren’t superficial. I’ve leaned on mostly online but occasionally real-life friends. Don’t let anyone tell you that a friendship that begins online must lack a foundation. Treasure friendship in whatever form it takes. Although I envy those with a gift for digging deeper and encouraging others to open up more than they would otherwise,
it’s not my natural tendency. I’m a peacemaker by nature. I avoid ruffling feathers. Combine that with a hyper awareness of personal boundaries and privacy, and I can keep people at
a distance. But sometimes you have to gently probe to take a relationship beyond shallow waters. I don’t want to be afraid to ask hard questions, to bear burdens, to encourage truth
and honesty. Some relationships are ready-made: your kids play for the same team, you’re in the same book club, or you take your little ones to the same playgroup. Others require work, when distance and schedules separate rather than connect. Some friendships must be intentionally pursued. Four of our kids ran cross-country recently, a sport that transitioned us from the heat of summer to the cooler days of early fall. My kids made new friends and so did I. Cross-country moms see each other at their worst: 8:00 a.m. practices in sweats and no makeup, unwashed hair, and that funky smell of post-workout sweat. It creates fertile ground for honest friendships. These women experienced me at my grungiest. At the end-of-season party, the moms’ conversations reflected relationships grown more than skin-deep: a child’s lingering illness, plans to recertify and pursue professions that were put on hold during the early parenting years, my new work in book publishing. More than one eye brimmed with tears as we said goodbye. And then we decided we didn’t have to.
The season had ended, but why must our friendships? We hastily scheduled a moms’ night out at a new Mexican restaurant, because less-than-concrete plans often amount to nothing more than good intentions. Next time we plan to go bowling. You may be in a season where friendships seem scarce. Maybe you’re new to your area, tangled in toddlers, or working long hours outside the home. Maybe you’re self-sufficient and tend to keep to yourself.
 Even the most independent—and certainly the most isolated—among us need friends. 
We worship a relational God Who calls us to serve one another. 
He endows us with gifts—encouragement, hospitality, giving, wisdom-
 which can be fully expressed within the bounds of friendship. 
 While building long-term friendships is always a goal, I think sometimes 
God places people in our paths for a few moments, an hour, a day. Maybe
 it’s the new mom sitting next to you in the pediatrician’s office 
or the older woman in front of you in the checkout line or the 
twenty-something beside you in the conference hall. Conversations evolve in
which words ring so true, so necessary, that a chance meeting
feels anything but accidental. I feel like God grants us micro
friendships—together for a reason in a season—when we
connect briefly but meaningfully.
In mid-December a woman waved me to her table in a
crowded mall food court when she saw I couldn’t find a place
to sit. I enjoyed forty-five minutes of conversation with her
and her friend. We talked about motherhood, education, how
our families celebrate Christmas. I heard words that I needed
to hear and shared a lovely lunch with two ladies I’ll probably
 never meet again. God moved in the middle, aware that I
needed connection more than solitude. Don’t miss small opportunities
 to speak a friendly word or provide a listening ear.
 I believe the stories in this book will encourage you in your
friendships because
that’s what they’ve done for me.
I’ve arranged them into nine categories:
 “Building Community,”
“It Takes a Friend to Be a Friend,” “Pursuing Friendship,”
“Hospitality,” “Friendship on Purpose,” “What I Learned
about Friendship from My Family,” “Vulnerability,” “Making
a Difference,” and “Old Friends.” I hope you find your own
stories reflected in the words on these pages. I pray they spur
you to step outside your comfort zone in the pursuit of friendship;
to do what it takes to heal past wounds; to open the doors
of your home and your heart; to love on the people around
you; and to bask in the joy, the beauty, the gift
of friendship.
Share this book with a friend and tell her how much she
means to you: “Read this story. It’s how I feel about us!”
Often it’s the little things that keep us connected. It might
be as simple as a timely text, a card in the mail, a phone call
while running errands. Be the one to initiate a girls’ night out.
Just don’t fail to express the simple but powerful message:
I’m thinking of you. “A man that hath friends must shew
himself friendly” (Prov. 18:24).
We need our people. We need friends standing in our corner,
 cheering us on, believing in us. We need listening ears,
sharers of inside jokes, keepers of secrets. We need those
who laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry, and then pass
the chips and salsa. We need someone to look us in the eye
and say, “You’re my favorite.”
And that’s what it’s all about. That’s
the gift of friendship.

Anna Rendell The Gift of Friendship #GiftofFriendship 
Anna Rendell The Gift of Friendship #GiftofFriendship
Anna Rendell The Gift of Friendship #GiftofFriendship
My Thoughts:

Only a few pages into this book and I already knew my 
opinion of it.
I was barely a few pages and and automatically I was 
thinking of my friendships, both past and present.  I recently 
connected with a close friend from my childhood days on 
Facebook and was flooded with a wealth of memories that were so
sweet that they made me homesick.  We have both moved from our hometown,
 but I was heartsick to go back to the time and place
when we wadded in the creek, ran down gravel roads, played dolls,
read Tiger Beat, but mostly dreamed.   
   Dawn Camp brings us a book that talks about friendship.  This is a collection
of 50 true stories from a variety of authors that will touch your very heart.  
The book is arranged so that you can read it either in one setting or just 
story by story.  Each one will spark a memory for the reader of
a present or past friendship.  Wonderful stories.     
    I would recommend this book to anyone.  
*I received this book from the publisher for a honest review without bias or outside 
influence.  I was not required to write a positive review.  
 Available for Purchase:

Barnes & Noble 

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