We may have bouquets of flowers in different rooms in our homes. We may have gardens full of flowers in our yards, whether the front, side, or backyard. We may even have pots of flowers leading up our walkway or decorating the front porch. Each of these blossoms can make our lives more lovely, inviting, and enjoyable, like the roles of many of the friends and acquaintances in our lives. However, what we will focus on in this book are the flowers that adorn and decorate your very person ... the close circle of friends that crown you with love, compassion, and joy; the circle of friends that holds on tightly through life's ups and downs.

Proverbs 18:24 says, "A [woman] of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a [sister]."

Are you ready to dive into the garden? Are you ready to open yourself up to the deep and abiding gift of enjoying and nurturing a handful (or more appropriately, a crown-full) of friendships?

Let's go outside and play....

Lessons From "The Greats"

My old friends are like my favorite pair of jeans ... you know, the ones that are the most comfortable and make you feel great!

Ponder

How has your life been made more beautiful through friendships?

Are you currently a part of a circle of friends or are you more aware of the bouquets and gardens of acquaintances?

As you look back over the course of your life, when did you feel the most "connected"? When did you feel the loneliest? What were the circumstances surrounding each of these times?

What is your heart's desire when it comes to friendships?

Did you find yourself "stuck" anywhere in this chapter? Did you find a place that needs the healing touch of God or the strength and courage to move forward?

Pray

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

Father God, I thank you that you tell me that I am "a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." I thank you that one of the ways I display your splendor is by loving and being loved by friends. Help me as I begin this journey to learn and understand on a deep level what friendship is so that I can give and receive this gift.

Apply

Treat yourself to a little bouquet of flowers (AND a donut!). Place it somewhere that you can be reminded throughout the day that you are "a planting of the Lord."

Deliver a bouquet of flowers (or even a single flower) to a dear friend with a note that reads, "You make my life more beautiful!"

Letters From a Friend

Dear Friend,

You are living proof that God lives and shows himself through our relationships! Thank you!!

Thank you for making my 30th special. Thank you for all the presents and time and love you continually give me. I will never forget that you came by on my 30th even though I was sick and you baked my favorite dessert.

Your friendship, support, and unconditional love bring tears to my eyes. I am so blessed to be a part of your family and so blessed that I have a best friend who loves my children and loves my husband and inspires us all. I am blessed by your marriage and the way you love each other and our Savior.

Thank you for being on the journey with me.

I love you,

Andrea


Excerpted from: Growing Friendships by Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764204340 Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.