Friday, May 13, 2011

Bringing Out the Best

or Opening a Brown Paper Package.  We had just moved to Sacramento and our older son was in junior high.  It was important to us that he was plugged into a good youth group.  That morning we had visited a church and noticed that there was a picnic later in the day for new kids to the youth group and their parents.  Not knowing anyone, Dave and I went.  As Dave was joining in with whatever the boys were doing, I was wandering around in a haze.  I know I looked like the new mom on the block.  Trisha noticed and invited me to sit next to her with several other parents.  That was a very welcome invitation and, by the way, the beginning of a special friendship.

Several years later, after another major move, I was in a similar situation.  This time I was wandering around the ladies coffee hour before Bible study at the church we had recently decided to attend.  I was obviously new and Marion approached me and guided me to a small group.  Interestingly, Marion has also become a very dear friend.

Noticing and taking initiative is the first step in opening brown paper packages.  I am so thankful that Trisha and Marion both took initiative with me.  They continued to get to know me and help me get involved in the women’s ministries of our new churches.  I remember going to coffee one day with Marion and she asked me, “Sue, how would you like to be involved in our women’s Bible study ministry?”  She opened the door wide for me.  What a huge risk on her part!  I had an answer and she supported me.  Marion was opening the brown paper package that was covering the real me.  Thank you, Marion!

My friendship with Janine is less than a year old, but it is very special to me.  The very first time we met we realized we had a lot in common.  Besides both of us being the mother of two sons, we both have a heart for listening to God in solitude and silence and helping other women do the same.  My church invited me to facilitate a one day retreat on that topic.  Even though Janine lives an hour away, she made the retreat a priority and attended.  Not only was her presence a huge affirmation, but at the end of the day before driving home she offered to de-brief with me.  Her questions and her affirmation continued to open my brown paper package. 

Bill and I have enjoyed being part of a couples group for several years.  Although we all have a lot in common, we also all have a lot of differences.  Ed and Mary own a cabin in the mountains and several times the ten of us have squeezed in their cabin for a weekend together.  Thank you, Ed and Mary!  As we live together, our differences shine.  Mary is wonderful about stepping aside and giving anyone else access to her kitchen.  The treasure inside Mary’s brown paper package is more evident as we live together.  What a gift she is to our group.  Although it is rarely possible to move into each other’s worlds like that, it highlights the importance of spending time with friends on their turf to see what is inside their brown paper package.

Assuming there is a treasure inside the brown paper package of a believer’s life is always a correct assumption.   

To be continued …..

“…It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…”
Galatians 2:20

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