Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Work

"Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. " ~ Thomas Carlyle

Bindweed.
It chokes, infests, and overtakes the ground.
It is extremely difficult to remove, to pluck up, and to destroy.
This Spring we started early with our battle against bindweed.  Joseph has hoed the little plot where we planned to plant nearly every single day since the middle of March.  He'd overturn the new growth, and chop off roots and heads of leaves.  We soon figured out what we'd put in that bed.  I am going to be a little busier this late spring and summer, so we decided against planting a huge garden like we have in the past.  Instead we've chosen to plant a few trees, and a bed of raspberry bushes.  

The raspberry bushes came right on time, and have put off new growth quickly.  We prepared the soil, kept the bindweed at bay, and then mulched the ground so that new bindweed growth would not have the ability to overtake the bed.  Joseph planted and pruned the raspberry bushes.  Raspberry bushes send up shoots, and in their infantile form they look somewhat similar to bindweed except for a few distinguishing characteristics.  It requires that the bindweed plucker look closely at the leaves before picking so as not to pluck up the new growth of the raspberry bush.  

Bindweed disguises itself well, and it requires daily check-ups so that it doesn't choke out the plants in the area.  It requires that the gardener be vigilant and persistent.  This is just a garden, but we'd like some raspberries after all.  If Joseph hadn't started hoeing the bindweed up, we'd have a bed of bindweed right now.  I admire his ability to be steady, to dream big, and to keep on going when things get tough.   I think he can see the day when his weeding will have paid off.  He'll have lush raspberry bushes, and the bindweed will have been conquered.  

But on some days, I just see a bed of weeds to be picked. I don't know where to start, and to be honest, when dealing with weeds, I just have a hard time getting up the motivation to begin picking.  I could say I've picked my share of weeds in a lifetime because I've picked quite a few.  I could also say that the pollen from the weeds makes me feel sick.  It does.  I could say I don't enjoy weeding.  I don't.  But I'm sure Joseph doesn't either.  But somewhere, sometime, I've got to start.  If I want a garden I have to work at weeding.  How can I expect plants to bloom and produce if they don't even have a chance to thrive? 


What do you need to work at today that you're having trouble starting? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Poor

It is good to be reminded that people do not live the same way the world over.  One block or mile away, people may live in what is considered poverty.   However, it is good to remember what poverty is and is not.  Some people are poor by choice.  The choices they make greatly influence their character and who they become.  But there are others who would not choose to be poor, but are nonetheless, trenched in poverty.  It is a cycle they would escape if they could escape.  It is these, the quiet, undemanding poor that often get trapped in lifestyles and ways of life that bring them into a vicious cycle of bondage.  The poor we will always have with us.  Let us remember, we who are rich in so many ways, and have compassion on those who are truly in need.  By living within our means, may we have discernment to give to those who really need. 

Dancing In The Mine Fields-Andrew Peterson

Extending

"You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes." ~ A.A. Milne

Where do you need to go today?

    -Up the block to visit a neighbor?
    -Down the road to bring a welcome gift?
    -To a friend's house for a cup of coffee?
    -To the store to buy groceries?
    -To the doctor so you can feel better?
    -To the country to have some solitude?
    -To town to go shopping?
    -To the library to get some books?

Where do you need to go?  Have you thought about inviting someone along?  Today I'm thankful for some new found friends that called and came over.  The truth is, we do a lot of of 'going' to other people.  Having some other friends who come to us to encourage...or just to try to watch a meteor shower on a cold, dark night...well, that's fun because it doesn't happen very often.  We just feel blessed.  And I think I need to start being a little more proactive.  Our door is always open, but I'm not very good at extending invitations.  (I'm often just as happy if people invite themselves or Joseph invites them...)  The road of friendship goes both ways.  It's not a one-way street.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Tomorrow Holds








Who could have known that when we planted these trees about a week ago....










He dug,









he prepared,



and he planted and watered,





that we would drive over the horizon to see this a few days later. Yes, that used to be a windbreak. Thank the Lord for His mercies to us, our house, our lives, and the lives of our neighbors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Experience

"You should enjoy being pregnant because you may not be pregnant again.... Go do something special for yourself an hour a week... Your pregnancy and labor will be exactly what your baby needs..."

She was full of tips and advice; she dispelled some of the myths I had heard and helped me prepare myself for labor. But even now I wonder how prepared can one be? I knew I should try to enjoy being pregnant, and then I felt guilty for not savoring moments like other people do. My baby's heartbeat--good, he's still in there. My baby's sonogram--phew, he is still moving. Is my baby moving enough? And I worried about not enjoying things people said I should enjoy. Then I wondered why people kept telling me they enjoyed being pregnant so much when that was their experience. Sure, I was happy to be growing a baby, but I never seemed as ecstatic about it. (This is who I am; I feel deeply, express little, and thus I am sure sometimes people think I either should be feeling more, or I am feeling-less.)

When she first told me I should do something for myself for an hour, I cried the next day for an hour. I didn't know what to do by myself that I liked. Getting my haircut? No, somehow that is always a mistake unless Mom is cutting it. Doing my nails? I don't think I could sit down that long and they chip too fast. Pedicure? Only at home. I don't want some strange toenail disease. Taking a walk? Well, maybe I could muster doing that but I do that almost every day anyway. Scrapbooking or card making? Nope. Too big of a mess in the living room. Not even attempting that.

And then the class about making decisions, and the birth process being what your baby needs. I'd like to have it hurry along and to be finished with this process. I'd like my emotions not to influence the timing of this baby. I'd have chosen for the tornadoes to pass by at a different time than they did, and they gave me a real reason to cry. I had to think about the hard decisions with Joseph just in case we have to make them.

I've walked, I've danced, I've hoped to get this baby on the move. But he will come in his own time. A few nights ago I asked, "Are you scared?" and he said, "Of what?" and I said, "Of being a parent?" After a slight pause, "Yes, but I think we'll do just fine." I've cared for other people's children longer than I can remember. But the idea of having my own...well, I'm having to relax into that idea. I'm still scared, but not of giving birth. The aftermath of it--and how I handle being a parent--that scares me because I am responsible for a little soul for a very small amount of time.

Telling someone to 'enjoy pregnancy' may be similar to telling them to enjoy a tooth extraction. Your glad when it's over, you realize it had a purpose, and you feel better now. But for some, it's important to realize pregnancy is a process not an ethereal state of being happy all the time. There's the sickness, the clumsiness, and the learning to cope with a body that seems out of control in every way. Afterwards, you appreciate the process and are thankful for the new life. My experience is not the testing ground for other women. Each will have their own story, their own experience.

Have you ever given someone advice based on your experience? Has this ever backfired on you? How does your experience color what you think and believe?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Practice


"...in all things, love...."

I knew I had to practice to get better. It meant I had to stop looking back at what I'd already done. It meant the past could be a help to the future, but not a replacement for the present. I'd have to start practicing again. I had written and been published at the ripe age of 28. I had edited. But that is who I was, and I needed to write to who I was now.

Writing takes discipline. It takes time, and thought. It has to be genuine. For me, I am afraid that if I am honest I will come under scrutiny about my life, my thoughts, my politics, my faith, my choices, and the list could go on. If we are really truthful, we judge people every day on the basis of what they say (or don't say) or do (or don't do). I want to be given the benefit of the doubt, and want a healthy measure of grace given to me just like I want to give it to other people. But what if my ideas don't square up with your ideas? Or I hold so firmly to my ideas that no one else could dare contradict them? What if there was more of a spirit of understanding between people? Is that possible? Would it be worth the sacrifice of time to realize that people have different ideas, values, politics, and thoughts than mine?

So I've written in the past. Poetry. Short Stories. Essays. Blogs. Kid's publications. All very safe places to write or ghost write because there isn't much to be revealed that someone can judge you about. I've also learned that until I can walk around an issue from every angle, and try to understand where another person is coming from, my opinion does not really matter. If I don't actually work to establish a relationship with people where I love them in spite of the differences, my ideas aren't going to matter. People are colored by their own experiences. My experiences may be vastly different from theirs.

What if we learned to practice giving grace to others even if their ideas are different from our own? What would that look like?



Monday, April 16, 2012

Value


"The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost."
G.K. Chesterton

Misplaced values. Our world teaches that value is found in what one has. That designer house, the beautiful landscaped garden, the car, the boat, the cabin, personal beauty.

However, it isn't that planned out house, it's the people that live in it and make the memories in that house that make it a home. It's Christmases and birthdays, the day-in-day-out lived with other people.

It isn't the car, it's the people that ride in that car that make that car have memories. (Seriously, can't you remember the smell and rumbling sound of the old family car? Or squabbling over who would have to sit in the middle of the backseat? Or that high school friend you'd drive home and chat with?)

It isn't the boat, it's the people who go fishing in that boat and catch that prize-winning bass. Or don't catch anything at all. Or fall asleep when they are supposed to be fishing.

It isn't the cabin. No, you didn't own that cabin anyway. It's the people in that cabin. The little girl who tries to sit on your lap and misses while you aren't looking.

It isn't personal beauty, it's the person behind the mask, the soul that inhabits that body. (After all, it has been said, "You don't have a soul, you ARE a soul.")

It's when we start to value the house, the car, the internet above the people in our lives that our lack of love is revealed. It's when that broken sprinkler head becomes someone's fault. Or when that wrecked car becomes more important than the person walking away from the wreckage. It's also when that virtual relationship becomes more important than actual relationship with other people.

Yes, my heart shows what it values. So does yours.

What do you value today? How can you actively show love for others in your life?


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ruin

A sinking feeling came to my chest when we crossed the crest and saw the jagged, leafless trees on the horizon. "Please, not them, Lord," I said audibly. Heartache. "It's them." We'd had them at our table, and they'd had us at theirs. When devastation strikes, it is easier to help clean up when there is emotional distance. As we saw them, I started to cry. "Are you going to be able to handle this?" Joseph asked me. "Yes."

"We're so glad your okay," I tell Bill* as tears spill from my eyes.
And he asks,"How's the Mama to be?" So like our neighbors. They've seen us come and go. They've mowed our front ditch. Their cows occasionally get into our fields.
"How are you?" Joseph asks. "Shocked," he says.
The home is half gone, and the barn is completely demolished. The yard is a conglomeration of nails, shingles, dead calves, sideways tree limbs, and farm equipment leaning at strange angles. Cows are bellowing in the front yard, looking for their young, lifeless calves.

I find her. Her eyes search her front yard aimlessly as I asked, "Do you need help finding your cows or anything?"
"We don't know where they are at, but we don't know where to start either."
"Let us know if we can do anything," I tell her.
She looks at my pregnant belly, and says, "Soon you won't have very much time to help for you'll have your baby."
"We'll be happy to do what we can, even if it is just sending Joseph down the road, or getting something for you all or the people who are helping to eat."
"I just don't know where to start," she says. "I don't even know what to say."
"I have a baby quilt for you in the house," she says, as she glances at what remains of the house that is now partly roofless. Bricks are strewn across the yard. "This will never be the same,"she says with a sad, desolate look in her eyes.

Thirty one years of living, loving and making memories in a home.
Kids, grand kids, and what you've known.
Taken. Swept away as you are down in a storm shelter.
I don't know words to comfort that away. I'm just glad our neighbors are safe, and that they were spared.

When we went into our storm shelter last night, we talked about what we would do if our house and barn blew away. How would we start over? Today we're thinking that it's easier to start over if you're in your 30's, and not in your 70's. And yes, we'd still plant our trees. We'd still build our barn. We'd still build our house. For again, it's the people that matter. We're thankful to have been spared, but we are saddened by their loss.

Have you ever lost something and been devastated by that loss? What did it teach you about living?

*names changed

Friday, April 13, 2012

Trees

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to waste, I would still plant my apple tree." ~ Martin Luther

He digs a one-hundred dollar hole for a twenty dollar tree. The soil, he mixes with his shovel. "How long will it take for these to grow?" I ask.

The spindly branches are held up by a single trunk. They are dwarfed only by the trees that surround the nearby creek. In the field directly south of the apple trees, elm trees have grown to be about the size of the apple trees. "That will be our windbreak for our trees," he says, as he tamps the soil around the trees.

We decide two trees would be enough to take care of. After all, we remember last summer, the high temperatures, the wilted plants, and the poor harvest. But once two are planted, he asks, "What do you think about two more apple trees?" So we look. We order two more trees and three raspberry bushes. The next two trees come as just bare trunks with pruned branches. They don't need the same care as the previous two trees with branches and leaves. "It's our mini-orchard," he says. The next day we protect the trees with a surrounding fence to keep out deer.

"Do you think we will be here to gather their apples?" I ask. When I was a kid, planting trees usually meant that within a year or two we'd move. At least, that is what it seemed like then. I wonder what is the use of planting trees when they may not survive, or when a move is imminent? We can imagine our boy hanging in the limbs of the big elms along the driveway, and picking apples from the tree to throw at the critters. But will we be here?

Will we be here to see the moon and stars shimmer through the bare branches in winter as the shadow of the trees glimmer across the snow? Or in the spring, when fragrant blossoms blow from the branches casting their white petals across the front lawn? Yet, we plant. We plant hoping to see the trees grow. We plant, dreaming of the future. We plant, knowing that we may not be here. We plant, for the next generation. We plant, knowing that the trees are at the mercy of the weather.

The future may be uncertain, and yet we plant. Life goes on living even when unpredictable. How do you deal with and accept change? Do you keep 'planting your orchard', or do you give up before you start?

"For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted..." Ecc. 3:1-2







Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not Good Enough


"The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment."
Doug Larson

The phenomenon of Facebook and Pinterest means people now have more access to ideas and information than they ever have. You can see what Suzie is making for dinner, what Jillian wants to do with her large laundry room, what Joy made for her family, and how Elizabeth does her hair. But am I the only one who can't keep up the 'Jones'?

I don't have a designer house. I don't have a baby nursery. I don't craft things every day. My original ideas aren't broadcast from a rooftop for the world to see. And yet, plastered on Facebook and Pinterest I see pictures and statuses of other people's houses, of nurseries, of plants, of clothes. And I feel, well, somewhat inadequate. I'm not saying that these 'ideas' are wrong, what I am saying is that it is easy for your average person begins to feel like they can't keep up and everyone else lives a 'perfect' life.

But what if 'perfect' looks more like laundry piles, and unorganized cupboards? What if 'normal' is dishes in the sink and a little dust to be dusted off the mantel? Why must people feel like they can do better, or have the 'bigger and better'? Does anyone ever 'downsize' their life? Or is the push to live in or have the bigger and better whether that's a car, a house, a boat, more toys? And where is contentment in all of this?

I don't have all the answers. I only know the answers that pertain to me. Bigger isn't necessarily better, it is more to take care of. Chores are a part of life. I have trouble doing both chores and keeping things orderly. I can organize, but it is hard to keep things organized. So in my case, less is more. It's when I look at what others have and how beautiful it seems that I forget the outside isn't always what the inside is. Who knows if they have some secret closet they stash their junk in before company comes over? Are they like me, toting piles of laundry upstairs from the living room so that we can sit in peace with company?

When discontentment whispers 'you aren't good enough' or 'you should be doing better than this', can I answer it 'the best I can is good enough'? Do I trust the sufficiency of a God who has promised to supply all my needs and the goodness of a Father who gives grace, or have I jumped on the bandwagon hoping that the 'things' will bring me happiness and fulfillment? It isn't the house you live in, it's who you are in that house and to the people around you. And suddenly the 'not good enough' is replaced with 'good enough for me!'

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Retrospect























ret-ro-spect |ˈretrəˌspekt|
noun
a survey or review of a past course of events or period of time.
(From New Oxford American Dictionary)

Last year around this time, we were in HK realizing that perhaps we would be headed back to the states. Joseph's did some contracting at the airport, and we were able to look into a potential job field which after some inspection turned out to be something that would not work well due to lack of management in a part of the world where management and organization aren't really highly valued but are very important when one is working on repairing an airplane.

Joseph arrived in HK first, and found out he would have a few days off. We hadn't had a vacation in two years. So he saved up his stipend, and asked me if I could get a few days off of work. Whoo-hoo! I could. So off to HK I flew. And it was NICE. Did I say it was nice? After being exposed to pollution of all sorts--both coal, cigarette smoke, and spitting people --it was strange to be treated with courtesy in HK.

BJ airport is a direct replica of HK airport except HK airport is cleaner, has English speakers, and is not dreadfully cold. I had some fun with mirrors in the Swatch store, and Joseph wanted to get a closer peek at what I was doing.

After we realized this job in HK wasn't going to work, there was some initial disappointment. We'd worked hard: Joseph had studied in language school, and I'd been teaching to pay for his language lessons. We'd invested our lives into dear friends. It became clear that we were going to need to transition again. Our year had been full of change: we'd moved to a different apartment, I'd switched jobs, I had surgery, and Joseph had job interviews and beat the bush for more opportunities.

















There is the moment when you realize what you thought life would be, the ideal, has to be let go of. And there is also the space of time you realize that even though it didn't turn out how you expected it to, life is infinitely better than you deserve, and so much more wonderful than you thought it could be. It's when the 'what if' doesn't get let go of, and the 'why' gets asked and the nostalgia makes the past seem so much better than the present that the inevitable complaining begins.

But I remember. The prayers we said in hopes of finding something suitable so we could transition to me having a part-time job instead of full time, the searching we did for Joseph to find a job, the 3 piece suit with tie (yes, my blue jean boy wore a suit), the companies we talked to, the general feeling that working in a technical field in this part of the world would be difficult, the perseverance of searching in spite of rejection.

And today, I can say we have so much more than we deserve. Sure, we've been asked questions like "Why did you leave?" or "Do you ever plan on going back?" We've both felt the sting of words hurled at us like we were failures. But we haven't failed. We were faithful. We were obedient. We put our own lives, our money, our future on the line. We trusted the Father through this adventure, just like we do here in the states. We're normal people doing what He wants us to. We'd do it again. Maybe we wouldn't choose to have some things happen to us, but we've changed. Sometimes going halfway around the world isn't so much about us, it's about changing us in the journey.

Have you taken any risks and been challenged, and changed?

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

See You Soon


From A Severe Mercy p. 123
"On that last day I met C.S. Lewis at the Eastgate for lunch. We talked, I recall, about death or, rather, awakening after death. Whatever it would be like, we thought, our response to it would be, “Why, of course! Of course it’s like this. How else could it have possibly been.” We both chuckled at that. I said it would be a sort of coming home, and he agreed... “At all events,” he said with a cheerful grin, “we’ll certainly meet again, here–or there.” Then it was time to go, and we drained our mugs. When we emerged onto on to the busy High with the traffic streaming past, we shook hands, and he said: “I shan’t say good-bye. We’ll meet again.” Then he plunged into the traffic. I stood there watching him. When he reached the pavement on the other side, he turned around as though he knew somehow that I would still be standing there in front of the Eastgate. Then he raised his voice in a great roar that easily overcame the noise of the cars and buses. Heads turned and at least one car swerved, “Besides,” he bellowed with a great grin, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!”

"Can I Skype you?" she says.
"Yes!" I say.
Finally, after months of having little bits of communication through letters, we are able to talk. The webcam finally works since we changed our internet carrier. She comes up all smiles, and is happy to see my baby belly.

Every so often, the Father brings people into our lives that become like family. He, like a master workman, weaves them into the fabric of our lives so much so that we can't imagine not having them as friends. Upon a week after meeting her, I told her I felt like the Father had brought her into my life at the right time for a very specific purpose. She had experienced what I was walking through, and trying to make sense of. (It didn't make sense.) She understood because she had been there. Her compassion didn't stoop to condescend to my questionings, didn't give her own advice, but was present. Her husband noticed we were upset one Sunday, and asked why. We'd tried to keep things to ourselves, after all, this was ours to bear. But I'd been crying and there isn't much you can hide when your eyes and nose are red. Joseph told him what had happened, and he said, "Ah, my wife will be back this week. She had the same problem. We will meet again." And from there, a friendship was born.

Over time, surgery, cups of coffee, lunches and dinners we got to know and appreciate one another. We played badminton every Saturday together. They had room in their lives for us, and we for them. We found their friendship in the oddest of places, yet, they were true. We were their first American friends, and they, our first French friends. But we didn't quite see it that way. We were friends learning to understand one another. Love, bridging cultures, the Father, changing our lives. True people living in love towards others in a strange land, and sharing His love with those whose lives intertwined with ours.

And still when the Skype call ends, I see her eyes tear up in the same way she would when she thought of something nostalgic, if she felt deeply someone else's sorrow, or if she was saying 'goodbye'. And I think back to those days of sitting with her on her couch, cup of coffee in hand, chatting near her orchids. Suddenly, she doesn't seem so far.

"Do you have time to Skype?"

Let's just make the goodbye short. Instead, it's a 'see you soon.'

Friday, April 6, 2012

Purpose

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."--Chariots of Fire
(Note: This is NOT something Eric Liddell said. It was written by one of the scriptwriters of Chariots of Fire.)

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." C.S. Lewis


Fulfillment. Purpose. The search for why one was created, and their ultimate purpose in life leads back to God.

Glory wraps it's fingers around the heart of man.
Self is lost in creative pursuits of the one whose heart made us to create.
To write. To draw. To paint. To compose. To teach. To speak. To sing. To fix. To serve.
These are yet glimpses of His ultimate creativity.
He, who put us together as one-of-a-kind individuals.
And when we are lost in our worship, doing what we were created for, His glory shines through.
Eternity is seen in the small moments of real life.

The act of worship for a Christian isn't just Sunday. It's that morning spent at the sink washing dishes. It's washing clothes soiled with dirt from the outside mud puddles. It's doing not only what we do best as unto God, but doing the mundane, daily, repeatable tasks.

It's found in wiping tears, in reading books, in making breakfast. Doing our best, as unto God. Do we always feel his pleasure shining down on us? Do we feel like we are not handicapped in what we are trying to do? Sometimes. But learning to serve, to love, to speak, to paint require practice. Ask anyone who is good at something. Cultivation of talent refines, sharpens who we are. But it is possible even to refine those tasks that we aren't so great at and do the best that we can for a purpose beyond ourselves.

It's when we narrow our talent down to one sole purpose that life boxes itself up.
We began to think that worship only means singing in church, reading our Bible, or listening to the preaching. When the truth is, our lives are teaching something every single moment. We were created for His glory. We were created to worship while doing the dishes or helping the family down the road. He has made us for more than this world, and we must learn to recognize Him in the midst of simple tasks as well as creative pursuits.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On the Outside

I've lived in Kansas from 2006-2008, and 2011 until the present. But I've never really felt like I'm a part of the life here. My husband and I made definite attempts this year to form relationships in the city, even though we are from the country. My close friends are scattered all over the US and some are abroad. I still have yet to make one good friend here.

I've tried being friendly, but everyone's life seems filled to the max with activities and friends from high school or college. I'm a bit of an introvert, so I'm not the easiest to get to know since I prefer quiet activities and don't really like large parties. We meet with likeminded people on Sundays, attend a small group on Wednesdays, and serve others in our community when needed. Most of my friends are Joseph's friends--which means--I know people through Joseph because he has lived here most all his life.

This means events have gone unnoticed--even by the body which we are part of. I'm not sure if this means we need to go somewhere smaller, or the problem is with me. I don't pick up and have coffee with a friend, because I don't have a friend to have coffee with. I don't share heart to heart, because I don't have someone face to face I can do that with. I write long letters to friends in different places and stages in life. And I wish for eternity when the separation won't be so keenly felt and realized.

Being thrown into an expat community abroad was a good experience for both of us. We found friendship with a number of different people from diverse backgrounds. Joseph finally had a chance to meet some of my close friends. He learned about a part of me he didn't know existed because he hadn't seen me interact with anyone close to me besides my sister. (And yes, she counts as a friend.)

So I've learned a few things from this:
1. Some people will like you, some people will not. Spend time with the people who do.
2. It's okay to feel lonely and cry. It is a part of life.
3. Learn to do things by yourself. Joseph is a wonderful friend, but he also needs his space sometimes.
4. You can't force friendship. Be a friend, but don't expect anything in return.
5. During life events (weddings, births, losses) don't expect people to do anything for you. They have their own lives.
6. You be the change and love on people new to the community because most of the time people don't notice who they are or care where they are at.
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