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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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Monday 27th April 2015

The Truth About Friendship (And a Four-Ticket Giveaway to Women of Faith!)

Invisible.

That’s how I felt twelve years ago when we moved back to my husband’s family farm.

I wanted friends, so I joined a Bible study, an exercise class, and a stay-at-home moms’ group that met twice a month.

Yeah, everyone was nice. But guess how many of them wanted to be my actual friend? Approximately zero.

It was like every potential friend slot was already “taken.”

I’m not telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because someone out there feels exactly like that today. And someone else out there is trying hard to fit in, because that’s what women do when things don’t work out: We try harder like it’s our job. Embarrassing fact: This is why I own every Pampered Chef gadget and every Tastefully Simple spice known to man. I wanted to make friends, so I was a home-party ninja. (Yes, I realize how desperate this sounds). I wanted someone to like me, so I killed myself trying to make it happen.

I felt invisible to people, and in some ways, I felt invisible to God.

And then I gave up trying at all.

Then, Michelle found me, at the end of a long table at her church. (Maybe you met Michelle in chapter nine of Love Idol). Michelle saw someone whom no else else saw. She saw underneath the fiction I had tried to manufacture at the bathroom mirror. That made me super panicky, but also, a little bit likable. She liked me for me.

And soon we became friends.

I had a place at her table. And in her living room small-group study. And on her deck, with our feet propped up on the railing. And in the pedicure chair next to hers. And in the car on our way to a Women of Faith weekend. That was ten years ago. We’re still “dating,” as we like to say. We’re still watching sunsets, and getting our toenails done, and laughing at inappropriate times, and making fools of ourselves in public. We have loved each other through awesome days, crappy days, and meh days. We understand each other’s insides. And while we value our special bond, we are always looking to make space at the table. Because we both know how awful it is to feel alone.

Here are two of our “album cover” shots. (We have a whole series of these in case we get famous.)

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Here are three things I’ve learned about friendship:

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1 – You are not the only one.

You might think that you’re the only one who feels alone or invisible. You might also think you’re the only person going through a hard thing, struggling with shame, feeling nutty as a fruitcake on Christmas. Guess what? If you feel a wacky thought, there’s about a 99.8 percent chance someone else has that same wacky thought. I need to know this: my inner crazy is universal. Remember what C.S. Lewis once said? Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

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2 – You are not in competition.

When something great happens to your friends (or acquaintances), how do you respond? What do you do when they get the approval, promotion, attention, jean size, or dream vacation that you’ve been hoping for? Of course, we want to say we’re delighted for our friends. But somewhere on the inside, we might be a little envious. I saw a quote the other day on Pinterest: “Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another.” Comparing makes friendship a contest, instead of a community. We can all put down the measuring sticks and pick up the pompons. There’s more than enough goodness to go around, and before you know it, your friends will be cheering for you. Your soul will thank you, and so will your friends.

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3 – You are seen.

We will all go through seasons where we can’t find a place at the table. There will be times where it seems like all the potential friends are “taken,” and we’re sidelined. On those days, repeat this over and over: “I am seen. I am known. I am loved.” You are not invisible to God.

God desires for us to be in community. After all, it was His idea. He loves community so much that He is actually Three –– Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He gets what you’re going through. He understands what it is to feel alone and abandoned. We don’t have to kill ourselves trying to make people like us. God may send you a Michelle. Or He may ask you to be the friend you want to have — to be the Michelle who has her eyes open for the lonely ones.

Scary, I know. But watch how you expand into your truest self when you take the first step.

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An Insanely Awesome Giveaway to Celebrate Friendship

womenoffaithfreetickets You need a weekend away with your Jesus-sisters, don’t you? You need a chance to hang out with your Michelles. I have an awesome giveaway for you. I have partnered with Women of Faith to give away FOUR TICKETS TO WOMEN OF FAITH! Isn’t that the best? Let me put this in big letters in case you missed it:

One lucky winner will get to take herself and four of her friends to any Women of Faith event in any city! ENTER for a chance to win BELOW.

(Email subscribers click here to enter.)

I’m so excited about this giveaway. This is the Farewell Tour of the Women of Faith (I have so loved Women of Faith. Those ladies have been such a part of my own faith journey. A Women of Faith weekend is truly a weekend that lasts a lifetime. I don’t want to miss this farewell tour! How about you?)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The lucky winner will be contacted Saturday by email. 

 

$20 off coupon for Women of Faith

coupon

There’s more! The sweet Women of Faith people are giving any and all of my readers $20 off the price of any Standard or Premium ticket in any city with the code: JDLEE20. My preapproved self is crazy about this year’s theme: “You are seen. You are known. You are free.”

What a fun opportunity to hit the road with friends and make a memory. Take a look at the tour schedule here and click “more info” to see which speakers will be part of each particular event. Then register for a ticket (Don’t forget the discount code – JDLEE20.)

Details:

Regular Price of Standard Ticket – $99
Regular Price of a Premium Ticket – $109

Price includes all event sessions (lunch not included)
Website offers info on local hotels

Women Of Faith – Loved – The Farewell Tour 2015 from Women of Faith on Vimeo.

 

That’s all, friends. Register to win. And if you don’t win, round up some friends and buy some tickets with the coupon code, JDLEE20. You won’t want to miss the farewell tour of Women of Faith!

Living PreApproved,

Jennifer

 

this post includes an Amazon affiliate link 

  • Thank you for doing this!

    • Isn’t this exciting? So happy to be partnering with them. Be sure to use code JDLEE20 if you don’t win, but want to go. $20 off every ticket! And no … I don’t get any kick back from that! 🙂

      • Oh friend, may your kickback be a huge blessing from Him for you are going to bless so many with this!

  • Debbie Prater

    Have you read Melanie’s Shankle’s book about friendship yet? It is awesome! Love my friends! Don’t know what I’d do without them.

    • I have not read it yet, Melanie. But as I was writing, I was thinking of her book! I’ve seen so much about it, and I adore her. I’ve read her other books.

  • Robin Moore

    What a great opportunity for me to take another step in this new journey without my husband. Can’t imagine life without my precious friends.

    • Oh, Robin…. Praying for you as you continue on your journey. Big hugs to you.

  • Thank you, Jennifer and Women of Faith. I attended the very first WOF tour – and I went alone. We had recently moved to a new community, and my mother knew how much I adored Patsy Clairmont, so when the WOF tour came close to where she lived, she bought me a ticket and offered to keep my boys so I could go. It was held in a large church and was the first time I heard the song “Shout to the LORD.” I felt very along attending by myself and seeing church vans and groups of ladies together. But I was hooked on WOF and have attended many of them over the years – though never alone again.

    • I thought of you as I wrote this post, Patricia, knowing that Patsy has been so dear to you. And knowing how she is such a huge fan of your photography!

  • Lelia Chealey

    Oh That would be fun! Great post and pics. You ready need to take a photobomb pic with Michelle though. 🙂

    • It would be fun! If you don’t win, be sure to remember the coupon code if you buy tickets. $20 off is a pretty good deal. And Lincoln is on the tour. xo

  • Jennifer,
    I think after reading your post, you somehow have been hiding inside my camera bag as I’ve ventured out into the world around me and you’ve just changed the scenario and made me you…ha.
    Seriously though, after living in this state for almost a decade, there are times I feel the same way. Having friends back in NY and KY make it hard here, but true friendship isn’t bound by state lines, although I don’t think we could get a pedi together unless we skyped…and that would just be plain weird.
    You hit a nerve. You said something like maybe I need to be that friend I’m looking for.
    Jennifer, although I know that’s so true and I wholeheartedly believe it, it’s a battle to cast down the lie that it’s not fair.
    Part of me thinks it’s because I’m older and Scripture states the older women are to teach the younger. Yet, I want to have a fun friend that I can goof off with and yet one that I’m not always the one doing all the encouraging.
    Yet I know He sees. He is my best friend and so I keep plugging away at loving as He loves me.
    Thanks much for the encouragement as well as ‘going there’ when I would rather have just continued to shelve that area of my life…
    Just another matter to lay at His feet.
    Love you and thank God that you’re real!
    Daune

    • Can you most in next door? How I’d love to be a next-door neighbor with you, dear Daune. xo

      • Oh Jennifer! Can you move here? It’s much warmer and after living in NY for over forty years, I prefer the ‘dry heat’ and warm winters…but having you next door would be a blast!

        Did you read my latest post about turning fifty-three? Here’s the link for you and any of your friends…
        http://www.myfreedominthedance.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-to-measure-span-of-life.html
        Life is great and if I won the tickets I think it would be a God thing…always wanted to go. Never gotten to…thanks for your friendship through the net!

    • Sandy/grammaT

      Not sure how old you are but I am feeling this too. We moved here almost 4 years ago and I still wish for a friend in our community! My old friends continue to be my best ones. Finding JESUS to be my bestie now

      • Sandy/grammaT,
        I just turned fifty-three (and a gramma to seven already!)
        Finding friends takes time and perhaps my expectations are too high or I’m comparing what I desire to what I have in my out-of-town friends (one is in KY, where we lived for twelve years and the other in NY, where we also lived twelve years)
        If you’re interested, you can read my blog @ http://www.myfreedominthedance.blogspot.com
        How old are you? HOw many grands do you have? I care for the second youngest and have twin sixteen yr. old boys that are homeschooled. LIFE IS FULL!
        Blessings.

  • Mary

    I love this and your ability to say just the right thing to get across how loved we all are. #3 especially spoke to me because there are seasons when everyone else has their BFF and you wonder where yours might be but we are always seen by God. That brings so much comfort to my heart to hear those words. Thank you for this beautiful giveaway.

    • Isn’t it amazing, that Jesus calls us friends? Truly astounding.

  • Feels like I’m kinda on the hinges of what you described above right now… what keeps me grounded is that He is THE best friend I’m ever going to have and that I need to be content until He unfolds the rest of the journey! Clinging to that, today! So I’m doubly thankful for your words. Bigger than big blessings all week long, Jennifer 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Christine! May you be blessed with the richness of good friends and community.

  • This would be so much fun!

    • I know, right? Even better? If we could go together. xo

  • Nancy Ruegg

    “Girls compete with one another; women empower one another.” LOVE THAT! Let’s shake those pom-poms every chance we get! And thank you, Jennifer for encouraging us to take the first step toward that kind of friendship.

    • I know! LOVE that quote. Everything is better with pompoms. And cartwheels. And jerkies. Ouch… Just pulled a muscle. Ha!

      • Nancy Ruegg

        🙂

  • I have a “Michele” too, and we’ve been heart sisters for about 10 years. Thanks for your wise words on friendship. We all know what it feels like when it seems like all the friendship slots have been taken. And I love that quote about empowering each other rather than competing.

    • So glad you have a “Michele”, Betsy. I’m sure she’s blessed to have you as a friend. xo

  • Anita

    I love the encouragement of this post, Jennifer. My ‘Michelle’ has never lived in the same town as me–we’ll have to live next to each other in heaven and cause a ruckus there ;).

    • Love it! I want bunks near yours in heaven!

  • Oh my gosh! The album cover photos in case you get famous! Dying laughing over here in Nebraska!

  • Crissy M Besaw

    I really want to go. I had my “Michelle ” but we kind of lost each other. Life has been rough lately and i would love to go to this but neither of us can afford it. I just had a minor heart attack Sunday due to stress of losing our baby. Friends like that are a necessity in life. It’s easier and so much more fun to praise God with good friends. And I definitely could use more of both right now. I hope everyone who gets to go is blessed by the experience.

  • Monica

    I am so lucky! I have my own BFF, and wouldn’t trade her for all the gold in all the world. She is my biggest encourager, supporter and sometimes the only one who knows my kind of crazy. I loved this article. So many women are worthy of your amazing give-away!
    I just wanted to say thank you. Thank God for you.

  • Rachel Blumenthal

    I could use some guidance from this year’s theme. Friends are amazing, just need the chance to spend time with them

  • LuAnn Braley

    A friend (from Candacecreates.com) let me know about this.

  • BlessedMess

    I loved this article. And I’d love to win tickets, but I don’t tweet so I know my chances are lower. I’ve had a lot of health issues over the past 5 years culminating in long term disability. I have found out that I have far fewer real friends than I thought. Like one real friend and she’s 73 (I’m turning 50) but I do have a few others I feel could become real friends if I could get out of bed long enough to spend time with them.And I’m blessed that my 25yo daughter has become my very best friend. Anyway – great article, I’m subscribed now and look forward to reading more. Ultimately I know Jesus will always be my friend.

This is what we are all after this Christmas, right? We are all after more light, more Jesus. 🕯🔦💡... So let’s make it happen. Let’s make it all about Jesus. (Latest blog post in the profile) ift.tt/2j8VIGC pic.twitter.com/f1MRQ692QC