The Friends Who Come To My Pity-Parties

My husband and I moved to North Carolina from Virginia almost eight years ago. Not only did we leave behind our family, our church family, and the home where we’d lived for twenty years raising our sons, but I put almost three hours of driving distance between myself and my ‘band of sisters.’

That’s what I call the girlfriends who have been with me through thick and thin, through storms and smiles, drama and delight, silence and screams, prayer and praise. Gosh, how I adore these four sisters-in-Christ ’cause we all adore Jesus and that’s such a wonderful thing to share.

These ladies and I actually met in church, at different times, but we all met in Bible study. One year I taught a study on prayer. They were part of a group who just didn’t want to stop praying together when the study ended. So….we kept on meeting together, sharing blessings and burdens, praying our little hearts out. Sometimes with tears, sometimes putting dents in the carpet with our knees, but always with passion and heart. I miss them like crazy.

Somewhere along the way I dubbed these girls my ‘band of sisters.’ You know…like ‘band of brothers.’ Why should only the guys get a name that speaks to such fierce loyalty, bound together like glue? I like the fact that me and these girls are one-in-the-Spirit, one-mind-in-the-Christ, and one-love-in-the-Lord.

When I moved to North Carolina I thought my relationship with these ladies would change, but I’m happy to say we’re still connected. I may not be able to carry on telephone conversations because of my hearing disability, but I’ve developed some seriously amazing typing skills. I’ve got a computer keyboard and a smartphone text pad that serve me very well. All this typing has done wonders to strengthen my arthritic fingers.

We girls still send out emails, Facebook messages, and the ever-increasing-vital-to-survival texts. At least for me! I could not live without texting. The first couple of years after moving my husband had to up our phone plan several times before he finally gave in and went ‘unlimited’. I pleaded my case with my usual theatrical flare….”But it’s my lifeline! I can’t live without it!”

I gotta admit, in the eight years since I’ve been in my sleepy-little-but-largely-adorable-small-town there’ve been times when I’ve been incredibly lonely. One thing about small town life is that most everybody is either related by blood or related by marriage and generations of families have grown up and lived locally for like…FORe-E-e-ver! It’s hard to break in a ‘come-here.’ And I get that. I lived in pretty much one locality my whole life, too, before we moved.

I hate to admit this, but I’m just gonna come out and say it…I’m the queen of pity-parties. Sometimes my rotten self just likes to feel sorry. I don’t guess there’s really anything spiritual about that. It’s just me being honest about me. When we moved, one of the hardest things for me was not knowing anyone at all. I mean, not one single soul. No one to invite to my parties. So I had to have them by myself. And…can I just say? They weren’t a whole lot of fun.

So…in my loneliness and my desperation…I started inviting Jesus to my parties. Unbelievably, astonishingly, and GRATEfully I was so glad He came. For anyone who thinks Jesus doesn’t care I can testify that He does. I don’t think I’ve ever been so desperate for Him my entire life. We’ve had some ups and downs these last few years that have threatened to derail my sense of purpose. I’ve done some serious soul-searching and blatant honesty in seeking the face of God. Believe it or not, it’s been a really good thing.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

So that’s exactly what I’ve done! I cast it all…even my sorry self.

Along the way these last few years, I’ve met some wonderful new friends, but when it comes to throwing a pity-party I still go to my band of Virginia sisters. I can’t help it. They just know me so well. Especially my bestie. She and I still do Bible studies together and on Sunday afternoons we’ll Facebook chat about what we’ve learned, share how God has voiced His Word to us, moved us to greater faith, and stirred our hearts to connect with His.

Recently, as I was sharing during one of these chats, I got incredibly carried away. I started typing and couldn’t stop. That Facebook message must have been at least 6 inches long. I pounded the ‘enter’ key and the kitchen table actually rattled…oops…and waited patiently for her reply,

“Oh…I get it…you’re having a pity-party! Yes!! I will come.”

I actually laughed out loud. Only her…

She then proceeded to coat her words, typed in the usual Roman-style font, with the sweetness of a home-baked, three-layer chocolate cake layered with lots of cream cheese icing, topped with a few juicy, ripe strawberries, stuck in some candles and THEN…God love her…she lighted them!!!

But, just so you know, Jesus was at this party, too.

Because Jesus is in the midst of a friendship when He is the center of attention. Jesus is in the midst of a band of sisters when He is the Person of devotion. Jesus is in the midst of me when He is the Friend of compassion. It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling or what kind of party I’m having…Jesus will come.

No, not everyone will come to a pity-party. Not everyone wants to be around someone who throws them. I know better than to invite just anyone, but Jesus isn’t just ANYone. He’s my F.R.I.E.N.D…God love Him…and He lights all the candles on the cakes at my parties. He may not always tell me what I want to hear, but He will tell me what I need to hear, just like my bestie, and that means more to me than anything.

Pity-parties may not be a God-thing, but it’s a God-thing when Jesus shows up and shakes me up. It’s a God-thing when I invite Jesus and He changes my perspective with every word He speaks over me, with every candle He lights. Oh, I need Him so very much.

Jesus…Faithful Friend, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Matthew 15:13

My band of sisters…forever friends, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

I always know when the party’s over, though. After a while it’s time for everyone to go home. Jesus has done His part and it’s up to me to blow out the candles and discard the cake. Because my Jesus-lovin’ girlfriends know this, too, I’m so thankful He’s been in our midst.

Perfect Peace



It’s suppose to be perfect. At least that’s what the prophet Isaiah says in the book God inspired him to write and name after himself.

“He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

It’s suppose to be a fruit of the Spirit. At least that’s what Paul says in the book of Galations.

“And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace….” Galations 5:22

Just for the record, I didn’t even have to look up those two Scriptures. They are engraved on my heart and written down in permanent ink within the crevices of my mind where sometimes…when I am fighting the demons of worry and anxiety…I yank them out with a mighty tug and repeat them over and over.

Some mornings I wake up desperate for peace. I want it. I n-e-E-E-ed it. I long for it. I pray for it. I ask God for it.  Some mornings I depend upon this blessed peace like the air I breathe. Happy am I when the promises of God invade my soul, when the faithfulness of God washes over me in bucket loads, coating me with confidence and assurance.

Who doesn’t need some peace these days? Real peace. Not the kind that’s masked with layers of doubt or unbelief, but the kind that’s steadfast and sure.

Some of us need only a dash of peace and we’re good to go. At least for another 6 hours.

Some of us need it poured out like a soothing rain. And we need it every moment of every day.

One of the things I’ve learned is that peace is always there. Ready and waiting for the child of God.

Yes, peace can be perfect because it’s made perfect in Christ. We can’t avoid strife on this earth. It comes to all of us, but it doesn’t have to shake us. It doesn’t have to topple us. It doesn’t have to rule over us. This perfection comes only when I keep my mind on God, on Christ, on things above. It’s perfection at it’s very finest. Completeness of heart and soul. Soundness of thought and mind.

Yes, it’s a fruit within me because I’m a child of the King. Maybe this fruit isn’t always ripe and ready for picking, maybe it isn’t always available in great abundance, but I know it’s there. It’s mine. And even when I struggle to find it in the midst of my cluttered-distracted-and-imperfect-self, I can recall seasons of distress when I not only embraced the blessedness of peace…I lived in it. How positively, how completely, how absolutely perfect it was, too.

It was back in 2002. I was listening to my physician tell me over the phone (back before my degenerative hearing got so bad and I could still carry on a phone conversation with relative patience) that my MRI had revealed a brain tumor and it had to come out. I’d been having dizzy spells, vertigo, fogginess in my brain like I was on cold medicine all the time. Ironically, one of the first and one of the main symptoms of an acoustic neuroma is loss of hearing. Very ironic.

I remember trying very hard to understand what my doctor was telling me, but all my brain was processing were the words…brain tumor…brain surgery. My heart started racing. I could feel my pulse pounding throughout my body and I seriously considered grabbing a paper bag to begin breathing treatments.

But…and this is a BIG but…when I hung up the phone, got up from my chair in the dining room, walked through the kitchen to the family room where my husband sat waiting I can’t even explain to you the powerful way peace washed over me in that moment. BUT. It. Did. It happened. I felt it. I experienced it. I embraced it.

For the next three months as I awaited surgery, this peace carried me. It empowered me. It equipped me. I can’t even tell you how many people noticed it, commented on it, questioned it.

I realized many months later that for those who strive to live and walk in the Spirit, peace is real. True peace isn’t fake. It isn’t phony. It isn’t elusive. It’s there. I just have to let it take root and bear the fruit Jesus intends for it to produce.

Because I’ve known this kind of peace in times of strife I know what it feels like. I wish it came to me as quickly, as powerfully, as perfectly as it did facing brain surgery all the time, but to be honest…sometimes I have to fight for it because the enemy comes against me in some really unexpected ways these days. I hate it that he won’t leave me alone. It makes me fighting mad.

But I know what to do. When worry and anxiety want to get the best of me, I stop. I literally come to a halt. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I put on my shoes of peace and pick up my sword of the Spirit and I quote Scriptures like these (Yes, they’re engraved on my heart!),

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

And I repeat like a mantra…I will trust You, Lord. I will trust You, Lord. I. Will. Trust. You. 

Somehow peace comes to me. In all it’s perfected glory. It comes. It’s still there. It’s still real. It’s still a blessed fruit. I may have to wait for it to sprout some blossoms, but when it comes…it’s mine. I breathe in it’s fragrance and I am comforted.

And you know what else? No one can take it away.

Jesus Understands


I remember years ago a close friend went through a very difficult season. She was crushed. Childhood injustices had pierced her soul and many trials had wounded her spirit. I had spoken to her often about the love of God and the need for Jesus. I loved her as a friend, but I knew I couldn’t save her. Only Jesus could do that.

I remember the feeling of helplessness on the day I said to her, “I know Jesus loves you. He cares what you’re going through,” to which she replied, “He doesn’t love me. He did this to me. If He cares so much, then why doesn’t He do something? Does He enjoy seeing me suffer?”

It broke my heart. Because I knew Jesus as The Suffering-Servant. The Sacrificial-Lamb. The Thorn-Wearer. The Cross-Bearer. Acquainted with grief. Despised by men. Crushed. Pierced. Betrayed. If ANYONE could understand her pain it wasn’t me. It was Jesus.

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being, fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:3-7

There is something about this passage that makes me weep. I can’t even watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ without sobbing. It’s so difficult for me to envision this One, who has my adoration and my devotion, bloody and beaten beyond recognition, body bared and hanging on a cross. Yet, before I can see Him as the risen Savior I have to see Him as the crucified Christ. And, truthfully, this is what makes me love Him so.

There was a time when I was indifferent to the suffering of Christ. Maybe because I didn’t want to think about it or maybe just because I took it all for granted…what Jesus did for me. It’s easier sometimes just to accept His grace without counting the cost. To accept His love without cleansing in the blood. To accept His mercy without reflecting in the holy.

One day I heard a song that changed my life. I had gone to the Holy Land with my family. I walked where Jesus walked. I touched what Jesus touched. I sailed where Jesus sailed. I strolled the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering or the Way of Sorrows. I looked upon the Place of the Skull and gazed into an empty tomb. Then, on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, I listened to a man with a beautiful voice sing The Stranger of Galilee. The sun was setting over the Judean hills, the water was calm, and there were fishermen fishing in the waters.

In fancy I stood by the shore one day, Of the beautiful murmuring sea;

I saw the great crowds as they thronged the way Of the Stranger of Galilee;

I saw how the man who was blind from birth, In a moment was made to see;

The lame was made whole by the matchless skill Of the Stranger of Galilee.

And I felt I could love Him forever So gracious and tender was He!

I claimed Him that day as my Savior, This Stranger of Galilee.

I’d been wrestling with God for too long, taking my salvation for granted, treating His sacrifice with indifference. In my own personal suffering and emotional pain, I’d allowed myself to grow cold. As I turned my back to the man with the beautiful voice, I looked out over the sea as the sun began its descent and I realized I’d made Jesus a Stranger in my own life. Instead of allowing Him to comfort me in my sorrows I’d tried to carry them on my own, thinking no one could ever understand what was going on in my heart. Yes, I have lost an eye. I am partially blind, but even worse than the physical blindness was the spiritual blindness that threatened to bind me forever in a sea of shame.

Jesus has this beautiful way of opening the eyes of the blind, of healing a wounded heart, and resurrecting a spirit that has been crushed. He understands humiliation because He was humiliated. He understands rejection because He was betrayed. He understands sorrow because He walked the way of suffering. He understands heavy burdens because He carried a cross. He understands physical pain because He was pierced through. He did it for me. For you.

Jesus. Understands.

And because I finally understood this, I knew I would love Him forever.

God gave me another chance with my friend and what a happy day it was when she came to understand this, too. Jesus, the Stranger of Galilee…The Saving-Servant. The Risen-Lamb. The Crown-Wearer. The Cross-Defeater…was no longer a Stranger in her life. He saved her. Just like I knew He would.

Come, ye who are driven and tempest-tossed, And His gracious salvation see;

He’ll quiet life’s storms with His “Peace, Be still!” This Stranger of Galilee;

He bids me go and the story tell- What He ever to you will be,

If only you let Him with you abide, This Stranger of Galilee.

Oh, my friend, won’t you love Him forever So gracious and tender is He!

Accept Him today as your Savior, This Stranger of Galilee. (Leila N. Morris, 1893) 

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