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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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19

Tuesday 18th October 2016

The Secret to Being the Best Kind of Friend – #TellHisStory

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As a teenager, I logged many hours babysitting kids in our tiny Iowa farming community.

Early on in my babysitting “career,” my mom gave me a piece of advice that I’ve not forgotten. Mom told me that after I put the children to bed, I ought to go the extra mile by washing dishes, putting away all the toys, and tidying up before the parents came home.

“Always leave the place better than you found it,” Mom told me.

That’s a great way to treat a house. And it’s the perfect way to treat a friend.

What if we walked into every conversation, every lunch date, every Bible study room, and every Bunco party, with that attitude? What if we sought to leave people better than we found them? We could do that, you know. We could seek to leave people happier and more hopeful than they were before we showed up.

We could be the Charlottes.

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You remember Charlotte and her intricate webs, don’t you? Charlotte was a spider who dwelt in the corner of a barn. She spun webs and words and kindness. She was determined to let a pig named Wilbur know that he was someone special.

We can do the same for our friends. We can bring good words and cupcakes and hot tea and hope. We can be the ones who are the kindness givers and the Kleenex-bring-ers and the joy donors when they are running on empty.

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It can’t always happen that way, of course. Because some days? We are the ones with the empty joy tanks. That’s when we need to reach out and let someone know we’re at the end of our ropes. We need to open the door to find a friend on our front step — someone who wants to leave us happier than we were before.

That’s the cycle of true friendship, and it is fueled by each other’s commitment to the betterment of the other.

In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur asks his arachnid friend: “Why did you do all this for me? I don’t deserve it.”

And Charlotte responds, “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

This, I think, is the heart of Christlike friendship. It’s how we wash the feet of our friends, by looking out for each other.

That is precisely what Christ did for us. He came to earth and is unequalled in living out that sage piece of advice: “Always leave the place better than you found it.”

Jesus did a lot of amazing things to make earth a better place. One of those things was showing us what it means to be a true friend.

“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” {1 John 3:16, MSG}

We don’t want to make love do a disappearing act. We want to make love the main event. We do that by looking out for one another, by being a friend, by doing what we can to leave this world better than we found it. We do that by daily praying for our friends, because some of them are fighting battles we might not even know about.

And like Charlotte said, that is a tremendous thing.

Thank you to the kindness givers.
Thank you to the joy donors.
Thank you to the ones who prayed, when they didn’t even know what was wrong.
Thank you to the ones who made me laugh when I wanted to cry.
Thank you to the ones who let me cry, when I couldn’t laugh.
Thank you to the ones who stood by me, when I didn’t deserve it.
Thank you to the “Charlottes.”

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Are You a Relater?

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.10.06 AM If you resonated with this post, there’s a chance your Happiness Style is “Relater.” To find out what your primary happiness style is — and uncover what TRULY makes you happy — join thousands of others who are taking my happiness style test (Click here.)

Discover whether you’re a Relater, or one of the other four Happiness Styles.

Lighten Up Podcast

img_0708 I’m on the Lighten Up Podcast with Melanie Dale!

You can listen in by clicking here.

 

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Richella Parham. Her words on practically learning to let go as Hurricane Matthew approached are a good reminder for each of us. Find Richella here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer


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  • I definitely relate to this post, Jennifer! If I remember correctly I am a relater with giver at a close second. 🙂

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jennifer,
    Oh do our mothers sound alike. I got that exact same advice from my mom when I began to babysit. Like you, I did dishes in the sink even if I didn’t create them and had the place looking more tidy then when I arrived. That thought has stuck with me too and what a good concept to translate into our friendships. After I’ve spent time with someone, do I leave them “better” than when I found them?? Good food for thought and action! Thanks!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • Listening to the podcast! Thanks for the heads up!

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  • I got exactly the same advice about being a baby-sitter! And then when my kids were growing up, I was always thrilled to hire baby-sitters who had been trained in the same way. 🙂

    I love the idea of being a Charlotte. I love the way timeless truths are often tucked into books for children. Some spider, huh?

    THANK YOU so much for choosing me as your featured writer this week. I’m so honored and grateful. Bless you!

  • The friendship department has been a rough one for me the past few years and several people I thought would be around are no longer. God has been nudging me to make new friends – to put myself out there…and it’s hard! But…He’s also been reminding me to be the kind of friend I long for. That means I go the extra mile even if I feel like I might be imposing, or when I wonder if they like me as much as I like them, or when I’m scared…because chances are all those things are only in my head. And the beautiful thing is – I’m finding there are people who want a friend just like me. 🙂

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  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    I totally agree here, Jennifer. So much in fact this was sort of my Compel training personal tagline! My mom, too, raised me to leave things better than I found them and it translated into my Spiritual life too, leaving people with Hope even when circumstances say otherwise. Sometimes you can’t fix it. Sometimes just being there is what is needed but it took me far too long to realize this. I would badger myself if I couldn’t fix it for them. And so I stayed away for fear of not being enough! How far I have come and I am becoming free even today! Thanks for this post, friend. I always find it awesome how Relater was my lowest out of the high others, but this chapter spoke to me the most. Probably that still small voice gently nudging, and that’s why I believe God is using the dare to help so many!

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  • I think my mom must have known your mom. Because my mom gave me the same advice when I babysat. No sitting on the couch watching TV for me, I was cleaning the house. But boy, was the lady of the house happy when she returned.

    Love the Charlotte tie in. I was just reading that exact same quote the other day where Wilber asks her why she is so nice to him.

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  • DeanneMoore

    This is a good advice that I read about concerning teenage relationships. You’ll be there soon with your girls. Especially with commitments to marriage starting into the later twenties with young people these days, it’s good to remind them that their puppy loves won’t last. The deal is they are going to be in relationship with boyfriends that won’t last from 16 to 26 so the idea is too help them understand that so they can anticipate it ending well with the other person better off for having chosen to walk some of the path of life together. I know, sounds heavy for teens who will roll their eyes, but surprisingly at least two of my three understood this perspective. I love that you have brought into the idea of friendship as adults because really we only have a few and we can impact the lives of real people if we write their names in spider webs over the barn door. Love you Jennifer. You rock.

  • Julie Loos

    Great post! I was also given the advice about how to leave the house when I was babysitting. And as a parent to 5 kids, when I came back to a house that is tidy it makes my heart happy versus feeling overwhelmed late at night.
    Its going the extra mile isn’t it? Reminds me of the quote, “we can give without loving but you can’t love without giving.”
    Such great advice to take with me!
    Julie

  • What an priceless treasure a true friend is!

  • Kira

    I love this idea. Recently I have been thinking about how Jesus and the apostle Paul were always greeting others with peace “peace be with you,” and wondering how we can do this in today’s society. I think this is a perfect example of what that can look like.

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Here is my heart in Laurie's hands. I don't know how many books are in me but this one - the 1st - will always hold an extra-special place. twitter.com/laurieschmid18…