Scott & Shelton Oakley Hersey

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To Have and to Hold

The quality that Scott has that makes him exclusively hers is his attentiveness. She describes him as having a unique blend of serious and silly.  “Scott is consistently attentive to me and to others, always looking for small ways to serve that most people might never notice.”When Shelton is in Scott’s arms, she feels beloved, home, and seen.

For Better or for Worse

One of the areas that Scott and Shelton feel they can do better in their marriage is through not reacting emotionally to the other’s state of being. “When one of us is sad, frustrated, tired, or insecure, the other can tend to mirror the same emotion. It has been something we honestly weren’t aware of at the start of our marriage and sometimes occasionally only saw it as a strength.” They’ve discovered that there are times in which this tendency is a good thing–when it promotes empathy and sensitivity. “Often times, however, this lack of emotional detachment has kept us from many healthy paths including seeking and speaking truth about who we are in Christ and the promises of God we can rely on.”

When asked about the worst year of their marriage Shelton and Scott respond with “Can we say the worst (or hardest) year and a half?”

As missionaries living in a South African township, The Hersey’s went through a period in which they had to balance full-time ministry, full work schedules, a growing social enterprise business, friends experiencing deep trauma, and their own mental lows. During this same period, they transitioned from South Africa to Boston, all the while facing consistent illness and infertility.

“There was so much to do, so much loss in the massive transitions and struggle with infertility and illness, and each of us had our own journeys of grief and healing to walk through. We had been married for three years at this point, we were exhausted and well past our breaking points and did not understand very well how deep our emotional lows were and how much we were trying to sustain ourselves on our own strength.”

Through consistent tears, moments of irritation and anger, little to no energy, and loneliness they came to understand long-suffering in marriage. They saw the beauty that can come from sticking by one another and trusting God’s promises. They had to mourn the end of one season while embracing the beginning of another. “We needed rest, perseverance, counseling, acceptance of one another, healthy detachment from each others’ emotional ups and downs and the type of healing that only comes over time cloaked in grace.”

For Richer or for Poorer

Shelton & Scott see their marriage as being rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and growth. They enjoy learning from one another and growing personally and together.

When there is poor communication between these two they share, “Our tendency when we poorly communicate or don’t communicate is to make assumptions… Assumptions about what the other is thinking, doing and not thinking or doing that we feel they should be considering… and assumptions about each other’s motivations.”

Through Sickness and in Health

The Hersey’s are far too familiar with sickness. “This past year, we journeyed through the illness and passing of Scott’s father. Watching Scott’s dad struggle and pass from this life to the next was so painful, especially for Scott. Meanwhile, we continued to struggle with infertility and grieve through the process of unsuccessful fertility treatments. Again, the two of us were faced with another wilderness period of grief, each of us expressing it so different than the other. We longed for a lighter season of healing and regeneration. This time, we clung to God, sought joy and gratitude of each other, held a new perspective of the preciousness of life, and gave each other the acceptance, space, support, and grace we both needed to freely grieve and heal. We discovered amidst this wilderness season that regeneration was happening all along.

The way the Herseys maintain the health of their marriage is through communication. “We try to be aware of our own pain points when they’re triggered so we can speak God’s truth to ourselves and to each other. We create fun moments, romance, memories and conversations through which to connect in new and diverse ways. We rely on community and share openly about our marriage: the struggles, the different seasons, the help we have gratefully received, the love, fondness, respect and admiration we have for one another. We speak well of each other to others, conscious of building each other up and not tearing one another down.

To Love and to Cherish

Shelton’s perception of love has not changed much since before she married, but her understanding of what it means has deepened. “One perspective that has changed is what love in action means. I have had to learn a LOT about what this means for Scott and also for myself. Love for us means:

  • Prioritizing time together. 
  • Extending an extra measure grace to each other. 
  • Acknowledging what Scott says he needs.
  • Supporting each other in every season. 
  • Celebrating small and big “piles of stones” (or markers of God’s faithfulness.) 
  • Laying down our individual life visions for a God’s vision for “us.”
  • Embracing a unified vision that is about our journey toward wholeness. 

Scott cherishes his wife through encouraging her. Through his words, small notes, texts, emails and choosing to be present. He supports her in various areas of work and community commitments. He contributes to her gifts and passion. “My favorite is when he out of the blue says to me, “I’m so proud of you, Shelt,” or sends me a text that says, “I love you, and I see you.””

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked how the thought of death makes Shelton appreciate her husband she responds, “It is strange. Even though I only met Scott at age 25, I now cannot imagine living this life journey without him. In fact, looking back, it feels as if he was a small part of me all along. Perhaps this is because God has intricately used Scott to shape me more into my whole and true self. I always tell people that in being married to Scott, I have grown into the person that God created at my very inception; through him, my brokenness has given way to a more centered soul rooted in Christ.”

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Something Old Something New

Scott’s old school advice can be found in John 15:13, he quotes,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for another.”

He goes on to share, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

  • Seek the interest of your wife before your own interest
  • If your wife wants to connect with you in a way that doesn’t interest you, lay down your interest and choose to connect.
  • Enter into conversations and conflict that you don’t think is a big deal or worth a conversation but it’s important to your spouse to engage and grow.
  • Listen to understand.
  • Buy a less expensive car (or something else) because your together-values are to be frugal and generous with others.
  • Put down your work (or turn off the t.v.) and go to bed with your spouse as much as you can (ending the day together is a great rhythm!)
  • Conserve energy throughout your day to have the peace and presence to go on a date night or to help serve alongside your wife in daily family routines.

His new school advice is to, “ Be aware when to HALT(!) a conversation. In other words, don’t enter into a serious conversation if either of you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT). Take some space–even if it means going to bed, taking a walk or going about your day while you’re still feeling a few of these things–so you can come back to each other and the conversation in a better, more whole place.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Some borrowed advice that has greatly impacted Scott over the years is, “Intentionally discover and seek out the unique ways your wife receives love and keep exploring new ways to speak her love language. Keep in mind that your wife’s love language might (and will) change from season to season in life. Your wife is in the process of constantly changing… So take the time and give energy to continually get to know her, always holding her with sacred curiosity.”

Scott’s bonus advice is to “Have fun together! Seek out fun, adventure, and new experiences, and pursue enjoyment of one another in little and big ways!” He suggests that couples celebrate as often as they can.

The question Scott would like his wife Shelton to answer is, “In what way do you feel you most need to be consistently pointed to God?”

Shelton’s question for her husband Scott is, “What do you dream over and for us?”

When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they, Scott replies, “I would have been more consistent about walking with other men through the marriage journey. We have had some very important and intentional voices speaking into our marriage, and some of the most important pieces of vision and health in marriage have been heavily influenced by our mentors and those with an intentional presence in our lives. I would have tried harder to be more consistent about these connections in difficult seasons as well as find new mentors from whom to receive encouragement.”

Shelton’s response to doing it over was, “Earlier on, I would have lowered my super-high and unrealistic expectations of Scott and our marriage (an expectation of perfection that I didn’t realize I had until a few years into marriage). I like the hopes I hold for us and that we hold together. I am enjoying the plans we make that are cloaked in God’s grace and vision for our wellness, not in my own expectation. I know I have a long way to go in this area, but I hope we can continue to see our marriage even more through the eyes of God’s delight in us so that all we do and say to one another might derive from a place of inspiration, not expectation.” 

For the reader: If you would like to ask this couple a question or offer a word of encouragement, please do so in the comment section below?

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Jack & Beckah Shae Shocklee Revisit Their Vows

Marriage Vows for Blog (26)To Have and to Hold

The trait that makes Jack aka “Shoc” uniquely Beckah’s is his patience. “He understands how passionate I am, and he gives me grace and room to process and express it, while he honors, supports, and makes me feel like he adores and admires that part about me. We work perfectly together because we compliment each other so well.” When Beckah is in her husband’s arms, she feels, safe, happy, whole.

For Better or for Worse

One area the Shocklees feel like they could do better is working out together more. “Health and wellness is always a goal!” The 5th year of their marriage was their worst year. Beckah was ministering to a young lady and her husband Jonathan “Jack” aka Shoc did not feel called to do the same. “He was very focused on production at the time. We learned the importance of walking together in all things. We’ve also learned about boundaries, and how much we allow others into our space and time. Because our boundaries were not strong and we were not on one accord, it became a very painful learning process for us both. God worked it all out for good in the end. Like growing pains, we both feel much stronger and wiser!”

For Richer or for Poorer

The areas the Shocklees feel rich in their relationship are grace, love, affection, honor, intimacy, faith, joy, vision, creativity, patience, kindness, passion, health, favor, hope, laughter, friendship, and adventure.

When there is poor communication between Shoc and Beckah “We can misunderstand each other, and it can be frustrating. It takes us longer to get on one accord.

In Sickness and in Health

When asked to share about a time in which the Shocklees faced sickness in their marriage Beckah shares, “I broke my ankle 5 months pregnant on my husbands birthday. Shoc and the girls took good care of me with gentleness and patience. They were attentive to my needs and gracious towards my emotions. This proved the character, love, humility, and grace my husband has towards me. I Love him!”

The way Beckah and Shoc maintain the health of their marriage is through JESUS. “Honoring and Cherishing one another. Aiming to Love each other like 1 Corinthians 13. We make God and one another priority. We dream together often, and we are careful to walk together.

To Love and to Cherish

Beckah says that her perception of love has become richer than it was before marriage. Their roots have grown deeper after having 3 children. Shoc builds his wife Beckah up by affirming her with words. “He tells me I’m beautiful when I least feel like it. He reminds me I’m doing a great job (especially as a mom). He surprises me with valuable gifts ( to affirm my value). He strengthens my soul with prayer! (to keep me focused). He gives me massages and allows me to be pampered when needed (to stay refreshed).”

Til Death Do Us Part

The thought of death prompts Beckah to share her adoration for her husband, “I kiss him a million times, and it never seems enough. It hurts to imagine spending a day without him on earth. I am overwhelmingly grateful for every moment I get to share this life with him while living in light of eternity.”

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Something Old Something New

Shoc’s old school advice to husbands is, “Always give 100%.” His new school advice is, “Always dream together.

Something Borrowed Something Blue

The marriage advice Shoc received that has impacted their marriage strongly is, “Never go to bed upset.” His bonus advice to husbands is to “Plan surprise trips!” The question he would like for his wife to answer is, “What day is our anniversary?” With a laughing but very serious tone, he says, “Cause she always forgets.” The question Beckah Shae has for her husband is, “What day is our anniversary, (cause I always forget) haha is it the 14th or 15th?”
For the reader: If you have a question, comment or compliment for this couple, please feel free to share in the comment section below.
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Nathan & Stephanie Faught Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

The trait that Stephanie feels makes Nathan uniquely hers is that he is a “Super Dad.” She explains, “I have never met another man that delights in his children and wife like my man. There is no place he would rather be than with us, and knowing someone desires to be with you that much is one of life’s most incredible feelings.”

To Hold

When Stephanie is in Nathan’s arms, she feels calm, connected and accepted.

For Better or For Worse

The Faughts feel like an area they could do better in their marriage is, “Coming to the Lord TOGETHER more often.” When asked about the worst year of their marriage the Faughts responded, “We don’t feel like there was the worst year, but our hardest years were the years were following the birth of our first and third son. They both were very sick and cried all the time! We were often sleep deprived and running low on energy, so it was hard to give of ourselves to one another fully. Even so, the Lord was always faithful to guard our marriage and keep us close.”

For Richer or For Poorer

Nathan and Stephanie have found their marriage to be rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, consistency, and gratitude. When there is poor communication in the Faught household “Lots of inaccurate assumptions are made, and we are often left feeling disconnected.” 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Faughts have fought through great trials with sickness. “Our third son had a digestive disorder that made him very ill and extremely unhappy. He cried MOST of the time and was in constant pain. We desperately asked the Lord to heal him and end our suffering. His healing did not come immediately, but the Lord was WITH US! Each day was a challenge. There were days I was so exhausted, I didn’t know how I would have the energy to care for the baby and our other children. Nate would get home from work and quickly jump into action while I escaped to the shower. That year, Nate saw me at my worst, and yet he loved me the most! Such a trying time could have torn us apart, but instead, the Lord used it to strengthen my level of trust in Nate and to show us how to better care for ourselves and our marriage.” 

The Faughts maintain the health of their marriage by creating a routine and maintaining an early bedtime. “Once our boys are in bed, we guard our time, so we can consistently connect. Don’t underestimate the power of an at-home date!”  

To Love and to Cherish

Stephanie shares how her perception of marriage has changed over the years, “I used to think that marriage was all about usour dreams, our love for one another, our happily ever after. Now, I realize how marriage is all about God’s Kingdom- His purposes, HIs love, His plans, His molding us through the many moments of marriage.”

Nathan cherishes his wife by listening to her. He loves her where she is. He tells her how much he values her. He challenges himself for her benefit. He trusts God, even when it’s hard. He never makes her feel weak, and he expresses his gratitude often.

 

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked to share how death makes her appreciate her husband Stephanie replies, “I can’t imagine doing life without him. He makes me a better woman. I’m extremely passionate, too easily anxious, and a bit of an overachiever. His nature is steady and calm, so he balances me out.”

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Something Old Something New

Nathan’s old school advice to husbands is, “Never speak poorly of your wife.” His new school advice is to “Always tell your wife how beautiful, irreplaceable, and valuable she is to you and how you could not do life without her.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

His borrowed advice is to “Love your wife through all the different seasons of life.” He adds, “Find activities you can do with your wife that you both enjoy.” The question that he would like for his wife to answer is, “What could I do on a daily basis that would encourage you?” Stephanie’s question that she would like her husband to answer is “What is your favorite thing about our marriage?”

         

If the Faughts had the chance to do it all over again, Stephanie says, “I would feel more secure in my husband’s love. I spent the early years of our marriage concerned that if he saw my weaknesses, he could not love me the same. I WAS WRONG! Oh, how he has loved me through my good, and my bad and seeing it has only increased our love!” Nathan says, he would have learned to consider what his wife needed more in the early years of their marriage.

 

For the reader: If you have any questions or encouragement for the Faughts feel free to share in the comment section below.

 

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Trapped in the Net

Connected to others, but disconnected from myself. 

Polarized emotions, hidden on a shelf.

Selfie game strong, faith walk weak. 

Fragmented thoughts makes it difficult to speak. 

To do list long, patience growing thin. 

Feeling like I’m losing, looking like, I win. 

Throwing shade at your speck, to deflect the plank in my own. 

Behaving like children, pretending like we’re grown. 

Life on the Web means death for the prey.

 Do we fight for freedom or wait for fangs? 

Trapped in the net.  Lost in cyberspace. 

Broadcasting thoughts that can’t be erased.

So busy having fun we don’t recognize the threat. 

What do you do when you are trapped in the net?

Upgrade Your Life

My phone consumes my time and does not give it back.

A modern day convenience that forces me to lack.

Why have the world in the palm of your hand, if it diffuses your focus and derails your plans?

Not trying to throw the baby out with the bath.

Simply seeking balance and a smarter path.

If smart phones were designed to be a tool.

Why do I feel less smart and more like a fool?

Like a TV remote, I scroll through stations, as my calendar chimes with notifications.

Do this, do that, get out and have fun.

It tells me what to do but I get less done.

This week I decided to confront my phone.

You’re supposed to make things right, but you always do me wrong.

My phone replied to me in a sarcastic tone.

How dare you imply that I do you wrong? You keep me awake late at night.

You run me down and care nothing about my plight.

You misplace me often and then get mad. While you’re busy freaking out, I am actually glad.

At least when I am lost I can get some rest.

You don’t give me frequent updates so I can function at my best.

My storage is always filled with photos of your life.

Which leaves me low on storage so I don’t act right.

You complain about me to others, pass me off to toddlers…

You call yourself upset when I have grounds to be bothered.

You expect me to be user-friendly but you are the worst kind of friend.

This toxic codependency must come to an end.

Allow me to give you a small word of advice.

I am not a human, I am an android device.

Instead of using me, upgrade your life.

Community Watch

Placing a cap on emotions is like shaking up a soda bottle. An explosion is inevitable when you stuff your feelings. I am writing this to take the lid off. I am a creative Christian who has often felt like my creativity is a curse. Being a right brainer in a left brain world is like being left-handed in a world that was created with right-handed people in mind. It is possible to navigate, but it can, at times, be awkward.

When I prepared for a recent talk on “The Curse of Creativity” I studied how countless creative lives have ended in suicide. Sometimes their untimely end is our beginning glimpse into their struggle. The actors whose characters became our crush. The comedians who invited us to laugh at their pain. The singers whose songs became our life’s anthem. The writers whose words wowed us with wisdom. How could stars who shined so brightly give into the dark? I think I know how, depression befriended them, infiltrated their thoughts, influenced their actions, and successfully coerced them to do what darkness does. Try to cancel the light.

Depression like darkness conceals identity, which is the very reason that adding street lights to an area can decrease crime. When we shine the light on depression we can decrease suicidal thoughts. Is there a community watch in your neighborhood in which neighbors look out for one another’s property? I think there is a need for a community watch in which we look out for each other’s lives.

Darkness alters self-perception, which is why small children who are trying to get away with doing something wrong often cover their eyes as if they are no longer visible. Depression does something similar, it’s like putting our hands over our faces and thinking that if we can’t see, then we can’t be seen.  Just because we close our eyes to depression, doesn’t mean we’re no longer depressed, it simply means we are more likely to bump into something that is way worse than the sorrow that caused us to hide.

If you’re ready to take the lid off, turn the light on or simply uncover your eyes concerning depression, click the link below so that you don’t have to walk through alone. 

http://www.crisistextline.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

How Weakness Makes You Great

For months now I have been writing but, I have remained silent. Which is funny because that is the subtitle of my book. “Write or Remain Silent.” I even went away for a silent retreat and wrote my little heart out.

Somewhere along the way, I seemed to have lost my voice, which is ironic because I recently taught a blogging workshop entitled, “Finding Your Voice.” Imagine how confusing it feels to be mocked by your muse. The very thing you inspire others to do is the one thing you wrestle with.

Sometimes I feel crazy. Other times I feel cursed. Which leads to another talk I recently shared, “The Curse of Creativity.” At least no one can ever accuse me of pretending to be something I am not. I struggle with weaknesses and internal insults, just like the people I encourage.

 

In case you are wondering where I am going with this, I have realized that the only way to truly find your voice is to USE it. What is the purpose of writing if you are going to remain silent? What feels like a curse, when shared, becomes a catalyst for courage in someone else’s life.

Are you a thought leader, motivator, or dreamer who wrestles with indecision, self-doubt, and periodic bouts of silence? Perhaps you know deep within that you are a powerhouse, yet you feel powerless. Be encouraged, your weakness does not negate your greatness, it only magnifies God’s strength. Your desire for perfection, the love affair with potential, and fact that you know you are capable of so much more. Personal persecution steals your joy like silence steals a psalmist’s song.

Dr. Maya Angelou did not know the power of her own voice until after she was silent for 5 years. She knew that words were powerful, and feared that they might bring about death, not knowing that her words would someday add life to the masses.

Your current discontentment can give birth to your table of content. Do not despise your weakness, because it is the very thing that makes you great.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10

Praying Friends & Epi-pens

December 29th, 2016 was the single most dreamy day of my life. More special than graduation or even my wedding. My friends gave me my first birthday party EVER. Every detail was so extravagant, I am still trying to take it all in. It was over two months ago and I still haven’t finished opening gifts and cards. It truly left me speechless.

 

December 30th was the single most nightmarish moment I’ve had as a mom. More frightening than childbirth or surgeries.  Our youngest daughter Amiya was exposed to Tree nuts, which resulted in anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that needs to be treated right away. If you have an anaphylactic reaction, you need an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot as soon as possible, and someone should call 911 for emergency medical help. Left untreated, it can be deadly.”

Amiya, took two Benadryl, a puff of her inhaler, and I gave her two shots of epinephrine. She still struggled to breathe. We didn’t have much time so I drove her to the ER.

 

 

On my way there I prayed that she would live and not die and declare the works of the Lord. I did talk to text in a Facebook Messenger thread to my party friends who had been exchanging photos and fun memories from the day before and asked that they pray for my baby girl. I rolled down the windows and said, “Amiya, stay calm, you’re going to be okay.”

I called a friend who is a nurse, she asked, “Toya, do you want me to call the hospital and tell them you are coming?” We arrived at the ER and saw my husband who had gotten dropped off by a friend waving. I dropped her off and parked the car and walked into the most seamless ER experience EVER. The doctor was pleasant, almost perky it seemed. I could tell how serious the situation was based on how many meds they administered, how he monitored her, how swiftly they were all moving, but the smile on his face didn’t seem to match the circumstance.

I naturally have an unusual calm in emergency situations, watching someone who could deliver Emergency Room service with a smile for me was like watching my favorite public speakers. You know it’s a stressful situation but, because they were born for that very purpose, they perform with precision and supernatural grace.

Watching the doctor and nurses work to open up my daughter’s airways was like watching the symphony. The crescendo of the machines, amidst the clamor of pediatric ER chaos. I sat in a chair and watched everyone play their part. Roles they had rehearsed a thousand times before. A single tear streamed down Amiya’s face as they administered more medication into her body than most 14-year-olds experience in their entire lives.

All the while my friends bombarded Heaven on her behalf. The pretty women who had played princess 24 hours before, transformed into warriors united on the battlefield fully prepared to fight on Amiya’s behalf.

After hours of attempting to keep her airways open the doctor’s smile faded and he said, “Young lady, I can not send you home. You are still breathing 28 times faster than you should.” I text my sister to ask my friends to start praying, within 30 minutes he walked in, and said, “Amiya, you get to sleep in your bed tonight!”

I am just as thankful for praying friends as I am for epi-pens. My daughter is alive today because of the fervent power of prayer.

 

 

 

 

Jesus Cares

My seven year old accidentally hit my six year old. He immediately apologized. My six year old responded, “Ow, I don’t forgive you!!!” My seven year old replied, “Fine then, go to Hell, see if I care!”

What the? Did my Jaden Bear just tell his BFF to go to H-E- double hockey sticks? He most certainly did. In case you’re wondering how I handled it, I didn’t. I did not address them about their altercation. 

They both shared their truth and their truth made them free. In no time they were playing, laughing and loving. Have you ever been so hurt that you refused to accept someone’s apology? You can choose to hold on to your pain if you wish, however, the gospel according to Jaden states that your unforgiving heart will send you straight to Hell, and though Jaden may not care, Jesus does.

Good But Not Best

How can such contrasting emotions co-exist within the human heart and mind? My heart is full, yet fragmented. I am exhausted though elated. I am overjoyed, but overwhelmed. Who keeps my hands from shaking, psyche from breaking, and heart from fainting? There is One who can transport me from sorrow and suffering into song. The Prince of Peace who leaves His throne to attend to a little girl with big eyes and heavy burdens.

Pardon me as I open a chapter of my life that I have avoided reading until now. I am blessed to be really good friends with many remarkable women, but I am burdened that I can not be everyone’s best friend. Before you begin to think that this is a reprimand, allow me to state that it is not. It is an insight that I learned from a group of 14 year old girls.

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”

Good, but not best, sounds good to me! These young ladies embraced truth that will set them free from scrolling news feeds and feeling rejected. They discovered a friendship principle that can permit them to enjoy that which social media has often convoluted. 

If you are guilty of feeling like you were deliberately excluded from someone’s life or an event because of something you saw online, this message is for you. If you have experienced the pure pleasure of a moment fade once you begin to filter it through the eyes of those who weren’t there, this post is for you. The only Being that can be omnipresent is God. He is also the only One who never leaves or forsakes us. 

I love LOVE and I love FRIENDSHIP. One of the things I have grown to enjoy more than anything is watching my friends enjoy their friends. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. But is it healthy to weep with those who weep about the same thing week after week? 

I have suffered from depression and I understand that it can take time for darkness to lift. I also understand manipulation and sometimes people will cast a spell on you with their emotions so that they can have someone to keep them company in their place of pain. If you find yourself having to choose between being the life of the party in a pure place or on the V.I.P. list to someone’s pity party my advice would be to gracefully decline the V.I.P. invitation and go live your life.

True friends walk in truth, the type of truth that makes us free. Sometimes the very person who makes a huge deal about not being included is also least likely to show up if they were invited in the first place. Sorcery isn’t cute, it is all about control. In such circumstances you often feel as though you can’t win for losing. My 40 year old self, has no interest in winning or losing. I no longer wish to play the game.

Opening this chapter of my life to the world through blogging has caused me to see how I spent so much time attempting to please friends in my first 40 years. If my latter years are to be greater than my former, then the only friend I want to please is the One who gave His life for me, and sticks closer than a brother. 

My first post in my “40 Days Until 40 series” was entitled, “14 Going on 40.” In that post I shared that although I was about to be 40, I still wrestled with the emotions of a 14 year old girl. It doesn’t surprise me that a friendship quote from a group of 14 year old girls has become my new mantra.

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”

I will be a good friend to my friends. But I will not and can not be everyone’s best friend, and I am OK with that. My friends would probably tell you different… The truest of the true and realest of the real would say that I am their best and that’s OK, just so long as I understand that my role as a friend is to simply be the best friend I can be. But not to be each one of my friends best friend.

Balance is beautiful. The freedom that comes from strengthening our core is well worth all the work it takes to walk upright. As you examine your friendships entering into this new year, allow me to encourage you to go where you are celebrated, and not where you are tolerated.

Remember, in the same way familiarity breeds contempt, honor begets honor. Give yourself permission to embrace those who honor you so that you will have the strength to endure those who have contempt towards you. Show up in people’s lives in a way that liberates. Don’t allow the insecurities of others to become your own.

Jesus perceived the thoughts of all He encountered. Those who celebrated Him, and the one who betrayed Him. Yet, He loved them all the same. That is how to be a good friend. Giving your best effort, and trusting God to do the rest.

Friends whose lives are hidden in Christ cause you to experience life more abundantly. When we focus on cultivating friendship with Christ He can turn one of our foes into the best of friends. Keep believing in friendship; especially, when it doesn’t feel good. You might even discover that the best type of friend is waiting around the corner. 

“We can all be good friends, but we can’t all be best friends. And that’s okay!”