When I think of all the women who've been part of my life over the years, I realize how much these friends have taught me about living. Here are some of the most important lessons I've learned!
Put First Things First
My next-door neighbor Rhonda is a paragon of self-discipline. She has three well-behaved children and a loving husband. She lives carefully within their income. Her house is clean, and she serves in our church. Rhonda's no goody two-shoes; she's just got her priorities in order. I'm encouraged when I see Rhonda faithfully following God in the little things—everyday choices about her children's activities, their family spending, how she uses her time. She's a great example of what happens when a woman determines to live by godly principles.
Get Out of the Rut
If it weren't for my friend Lorebeth, my kids would never know we live within range of a children's museum and a carousel. I get caught up in the must-do aspects of every day and forget there's a big world out there.
But Lorebeth calls me up and tells me to grab the kids and meet her and her daughters here, there, and everywhere. She shows me how important it is to turn ordinary days into something special—because she gets out of the rut and takes me with her!
Laugh—Sometimes at Yourself!
The worst thing about my friend Lisa is that now she lives in Arkansas—and I don't. But Lisa has a way of generating fun wherever she is. These days, we depend on long, laughing phone calls and ridiculous e-mails. But Lisa shows me that no matter what else goes on—she's had hurts in her life, too—a sense of humor keeps you humble about yourself and connected to those around you.
Serve Without Fanfare
My friend Evangeline is constantly doing for others, but never makes a big deal of what she's done.
Recently, Evangeline and I threw a baby shower for a friend. The day before the shower, which was held at my house, she offered to watch my kids (they had chicken pox!) so I could get some cleaning done. After the guests had gone, I realized how many details Evangeline had quietly taken on—hors d'oeuvres, party favors, a salad, dessert. I want to emulate her way of being extraordinarily kind—and extraordinarily humble.
Go for It!
Evangeline's sister, Mona, is a whirling dervish who gets more done before breakfast than most people do all day. And Mona's willing to risk a few mistakes in order to fulfill what God's called her to do. It's not that she's totally fearless; she's just got the guts to go for it, even when things look tough. She's been a great role model of someone who trusts in God—and steps out in faith.
Gentleness is an attribute all believers are supposed to cultivate (Gal. 5:22-23). This frustrates me, because, let's face it, I'm rowdy. I talk too much. I'm not particularly sensitive. Aaarrgghh!
But God's beginning to grow a "gentler and quieter" spirit in me, and one of the ways he's doing it is by showing me how it's done. Prime example is my friend Diana, who used to watch my children one morning a week for a few years. Diana's ways are gentle and quiet with everyone. The result? Diana's loved and appreciated wherever she goes. I'm hoping her gentleness will rub off on me!
Remember God's Strength
Last year, my friend Amy's husband left her and her children. I've seen my friend reeling under waves of hurt, yet finding daily (sometimes hourly) that God's power is sufficient for her (2 Cor. 12:9, TLB). Amy's giving me courage by the way she's responded to affliction. She's teaching me by her example that God generously provides reserves of personal joy, peace, patience, goodness, and self-control that are otherworldly.
My college roommate, Hope, was so easy to live with! She was loving toward her parents, despite the problems that had existed in her family. She created an atmosphere of grace in our dorm room where it was understood we wouldn't "sweat the small stuff." I learned the importance of forgiving each other continuously, so we'd always have a clear connection between us—no grudges or even petty annoyances cluttering up the relationship. Hope understood God's grace—and taught me how necessary it is to extend it to those around me.
Annette LaPlaca, a freelancer writer, lives in the Chicago area.