Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Female Friends

My devotion and blog post yesterday struck a nerve. Lots of gals can relate to my struggles with women's friendships. We all crave them to varying degrees but find them not so easy to come by. Maybe because we're shy, or busy, or competitive, or career-driven, or focused on our families ... or maybe because women around us have been hurtful, ungodly, or won't make room for another gal in the tight-knit group.

The reasons we struggle in friendships are numerous, that's why so many of us can relate. Plus, we watch movies like Steel Magnolias, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and long for friendships like those. I'm convinced that was the true draw of the oh-so popular Sex in the City series.

Even if we're abstaining from such television fare, we read novels about friendships and they stir our hearts. Like Anne of Green Gables, we want a bosom buddy. Why, oh why, is she so hard to find? An online poll asked if readers had a quality BFF like Anne did, 61% said "no."

Reminds me of Proverbs 31:10, "A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds." (MSG)

I plan to dig through the Bible and write a post to help us find her. But right now I have to head into 5 hours straight of meetings for the She Speaks conference this weekend. Good thing that room will be filled with those sometimes hard to find "worthy women" because 5 hours in one room with 20 women could otherwise be considered cruel and unusual punishment! I'm kidding (sort of).

I don't have all the answers but there were several comments and questions I'd love for us to discuss. Like: When is it necessary to phase out a friendship? How do you do that? Or is that an unchristian thing to do? Let me hear your thoughts on this and I'll chime in with mine tonight when I'm back in my hotel room.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Woman ... Friend or Foe?

I've heard from so many women over the years who long for female friendships, but are generally mistrusting of women.

That's a rough place to be. Its like thirsting for a drink, yet fearing you'll drown if you take a sip.

Most of these women's fears are not unfounded. Maybe they had friends in the past who turned on them. Maybe they had female family members who took advantage rather than taking care of them.

Maybe they've been wronged and hurt by "the other woman." Maybe they've been the other woman themselves.

My own friendship fears were anchored in my life experiences which convinced me: women are not to be trusted, but avoided or competed with. That's why I had to learn to walk by faith with Christ, and not by my fears or cynicism.

I had to ask God for good friends, and then trust them with my heart. I had to make space in my life to care about them and what they are going through.

And when they messed up and blew it - as we all do from time to time - I had to learn to grant them grace and trust them once again.A small few I had to phase out of my life because I found them repeatedly pulling me down rather than helping me grow.

I'm not saying you can't be friends with anyone less mature in Christ than you. Besides, that's how mentoring and lifestyle evangelism work. The problem was they were stagnant, yet having more influence over me than I over them so neither one of us were growing. I enjoyed their company but it was more of a guilty pleasure and I sensed God leading me to let that go.

Today I head for Charlotte for one of my favorite times of the year: the annual She Speaks conference. I'm stoked to spend the next several days with some of the best friends a gal could have, the She Speaks team. My excitement continues because I also get to make new friends while I'm there.

This year I decided rather than rooming with a P31 teammate (Micca and I are usually roomies and I will miss that - she cracks me up y'all!) I'm rooming with a complete stranger that I hope will become a dear friend. Her name is Ariel Allison - do me a favor and pop over to her blog and tell her to be nice to me this weekend, and to grant me grace should I happen to snore!

The point is friendship takes risk, and effort, and work, and grace - just like any other worthwhile thing in life. But friendship is one of the things that make life feel more worthwhile. So don't be afraid to reach out, break the ice, make the invite, and touch someone. Forget your former foes ... new friends await. That's what my devotion today at P31 is about.

Can you think of a good friendship movie (besides, of course, Steel Magnolias)? I always return home from She Speaks too tired to do anything but sit on the sofa, drool, and watch movies for about 2 days. Maybe you and Netflicks can hook me up?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Calling All She Speaks Gals

This note is for anyone attending the P31 She Speaks 2009 conference:

I want to tell you how very excited we at P31 are about this year's conference, and about YOU coming! We're simply thrilled and honored that you will be sharing your weekend and your dreams with us.

We have SO MUCH in store, I know you are going to absolutely love it. Be sure you take good notes in each of your sessions, and after meeting publishers or leaders because by Sunday you will feel you're on information overload. What you were so thrilled to learn on Saturday morning, and were certain you'd remember, you'll be scratching your head trying to recall two weeks later. Each session has handouts, but also take good notes. Or even better, purchase the CD of the session before you leave the conference to listen to it again as needed.

Strike a BALANCE on social time and sleep time. This conference runs from early morning Saturday until nearly 10:00 pm. And as I mentioned, there is a lot to take in and learn so you'll want to be rested and at your best. That said, this weekend is a great time to make new friends and forge connections with like-minded women. So put yourself out there to meet, greet and network but make sure you turn in and turn out the lights before too long.

When I'm going somewhere, I always appreciate when the event coordinator gives me tips for how to pack. So let me give you a couple PACKING TIPS for this conference. The hotel will have ironing boards, hair dryers, soap and little bottles of shampoo and conditioner for you. So you don't need to pack those things unless you want yours from home. There is also a little gift shop in the lobby that sells toiletries or medicines you might have forgotten or discover you need. And there is a small sink, microwave (I believe) and a small fridge in your room if you want to bring snacks or drinks with you.

I must warn you it is COLD in the conference rooms. If you are in a cute summer skirt, strappy sandals, and cotton short-sleeved top, you'll be miserable .... very pretty, but miserable. I suggest long-sleeve tops, or a jacket (blazer/sweater), or both. I also suggest hose if you want to wear a skirt. I've been known to wear hose under my slacks there just to keep warm! Now if you are having menopausal hot flashes, you will probably think it feels great!

I also want you to wear COMFY SHOES because the conference center is fairly large and you will do a bit of walking. I don't mean Crocs comfy, you'd look a little under-dressed, but this is not the time to wear those super cute heels that kill your feet inside of a half hour. You want to look polished this weekend, but you don't want to be distracted by your temperature, clothing or shoes.

Bring your BIBLE and journal because God will have much to say to your heart through out the weekend if you yield it to Him. This is another case in which to balance your time. Make sure you carve a little time to steal away alone with God somewhere in the hotel to connect with Him personally each day. If your room is crowded and the lobby is noisy, I recommend the prayer room we will have set up. It is such a serene place - be sure to slip in there at some point in the weekend.

If you have a PUBLISHER MEETING and you're feeling clueless about what to say to them, relax. Remember they are just people, and they get this sort of thing all the time. Just be prepared to explain your book concept. Please avoid saying that God gave you this book (even if He did) as that puts them in the awkward position of having to accept or reject "God's idea." There's a free bonus session on How to Prepare a Powerful, Effective 15 minute Publisher Meeting at 1:15 on Friday afternoon you can attend for more tips.

Finally, I hope you will come INTRODUCE yourself to me when you see me. I want to meet you, hear your heart, and what drew you to She Speaks. You are the reason we do this conference every year. So I want you to know that the P31 team is always approachable and here to serve you.

That's it, but feel free to ask a question if you still have one. Or to leave a tip if you've attended before ... Wendy already left a good one in the comments. :)

Counting the Days! ~ R

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fight for It

Don't you love the days when you connect with God, maybe through morning devotions, and new insights click wildy. Warm fuzzies populate your heart. You cruise through your schedule seeing God in small and large ways, in the mundane moments and the glorious sunset. You feel alive, and on mission with God. Yeah, me too. And then there are the days ...

Don't ya loathe those days when you feel dry and uninspired? Morning devotions feel like drudgery – lacking in fresh revelation or tingly feelings. Pretty soon you stop doing them. You move through your day feeling unconnected and cranky. Those are the days we want to give up the good fight for now, and just indulge a little:

  • We want to blow off an inconvenient promise we made.

  • We want to yell at loved ones when we feel aggravated.

  • We want to read the gossip rags for cheap entertainment.

  • We want to skip church small group since we don’t feel like going, or being around those who are more in-step with Christ.

  • We want to gorge on the chocolate cream pie in the fridge. And we don't want to share.
It’s on these days I believe we have to fight for the joy we're missing. Pause and pray for God to fuel our focus. We have to ask Him to create a passion for obedience. Then, we focus on the task at hand - be it morning devotions or evening dinner - even if the feelings don’t immediately flood in. Our feelings will soon catch up.

Consider this quote from Pastor John Piper:

“As you are able to do some of your duty, ask God that the joy be restored. That is, don't sit and wait for the joy saying, ‘I will be a hypocrite if I do an act of mercy today, since I do not feel the joy of mercy.’ No, you will not be a hypocrite, if you know that joy is your duty, and repent that you don’t have it, and ask God earnestly to restore the joy even as you do the deed. That is not the way a hypocrite thinks. That is the way a true Christian thinks in the fight for joy.”

Let's fight for the joy today, girls!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Counting the days

Did you see Diane's poem in the comments of my last post? Diane, you're good with food and words. :)

Did anybody follow Andy's link there? Oh my, this site will get you writing ... or else! I stopped typing for just a couple seconds and it started shouting obnoxiously at me. Ha! You'll get words on paper in hurry in that lab ... not sure they'll be any good, but then again it's impossible to edit a blank page so it might be worth bookmarking. Thanks for that, Andy.

Hey She Speaks gals, are you ready? Almost ready? Not even close but hoping you'll make it to ready? I leave in about a week (team has to be there early) so I'm really counting down the days now. Speaking of counting the days ... let's make this one count.

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went --
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay --
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face--
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost --
Then count that day as worse than lost.

By: George Eliot (real name =Mary Ann Evans) 1819 - 1890

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I've lost my mojo

Hi. It's me. Remember me? Think back ... a long time ago we used to chat here. That is until I began spending every waking moment writing my book or preparing for She Speaks. Sigh. I miss you.

I should be writing right now because I only have an hour before the kids are home again. But I can't seem to get over the hump and make letters appear on the Word document page. So here I am. Procrastinating.

Oh yeah, I need to write a devotion today too.

What I'd rather be doing is going to the beach. Or redecorating my bedroom. Or meeting a friend for lunch. Wait, scratch that. I only want to be doing those things because I am stuck. What I really want to do is get the flow going, but I seem to be missing my writing mojo today.

Have you seen it? Could you email it to me if you find it please? Or at least pray for me?

While you're at it, feel free to leave me the url of a website you love to frequent just incase I have to kill more time online while waiting for my mojo to arrive.

Blessings, yall ~Rachel

Friday, July 10, 2009

Are You Competitive?

Hey y'all. Here is a synopsis of my daily life the last couple of weeks:

writing, writing, writing, writing .... rinse, repeat.

My desk and the floor around it is currently covered in Bibles and books. I keep Pandora open with classical baroque playing because it helps me concentrate. My book deadline approaches, and I had a computer crash a short while ago and lost some of it. So here's to hoping lightening can strike in the same place twice!

Oh and I have a little conference coming up called She Speaks! Will you be there?

OK, so here is the topic I'm pondering today: our competitive nature. I suspect everyone's got one - it just comes out in different ways, about different things, or to different degrees. Do you disagree? And its not always a bad thing, but it certainly can be. You agree with that?

What do you get competitive about?

# of facebook or blog comments you get?
# of followers you have?
# of people in your church?
# of points in your grade point average?
# of dollars you earn?
# of awards you - or your child - receives?
# of people in your audience?
# of compliments on your dinner party, or outfit?
# of miles you ran today?
# of sales you made?
# of pounds you lost?
# of square feet in your home?

So what gets your competitive juices flowing? A game of scrabble? A Friday night football game? A craft exhibition? A Bobby Flay throw down? Bikini season?

Does your competitive nature help you more than hurt you, or the other way around?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tweet Tweet

I'm now on Twitter. ( I know.) Are you twittering? Surely you know about Twitter - surely you've heard about it since Ashton's quest to reach 1 million followers before CNN news did. :) If not, check it out.

Anyway, my last couple of tweets are always displayed in the right-hand column on the blog here. And you're welcome to follow me if you wish.

FYI: I'm under the gun to complete my next book in the next few weeks, so a few 140 word tweets may be all I manage to communicate for a while! But I have not forgotten about my promise to continue the "Why Men Cheat" series I started. I'll get to it - pinky promise.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence

Happy 4th of July to all the American readers.

And especially to our troops who throughout our history have secured and defended our freedom. It's such a noble thing to put your life on the line for the benefit of others.

Of course, that's exactly what Jesus did. "No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, ISV). Jesus secures and defends our ultimate freedom. "He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy" (Psalm 68:6b, NLT).

Through Christ and the new covenant of grace, God gives us the utmost freedom - and then tells us repeatedly to manage it wisely. Be mature. Not selfish. Consider others, not just your own desires. Be willing to serve.

So thanks and blessings to all who have, and are, serving God and country.

Now, off to grill some chicken, corn and zucchini and enjoy a poolside potluck with family and friends. Have a good one!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Welcome if you've come over from my devotion today at Proverbs 31.

My pastor has a saying ... think about it for a moment:

"Every longing at its core is a longing for life."

John the Baptist said, "What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I'm a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out." (MSG)

Jesus is always the key to life - our lives have their source and fulfillment in Him.
Longing to feel truly alive today? Immerse yourself in worship - in Him.

I'm hoping to get back to the beach today. Got another chapter to work on first - but can't wait to wade into the water as my reward when I'm done.