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Book Jacket

0764204343
Paperback
208 pages
Nov 2007
Bethany House

Growing Friendships: Connecting More Deeply With Those Who Matter Most

by Tracy Klehn

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The Daisy Chain

"A garland or chain made of linked daisies."

Friend: One attached to another by affection or esteem

To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue.
—C. S. Lewis

Flowers can brighten up a room and put a smile on your face. They can also be expensive if you are the one purchasing them. For most people, flowers are an "extra" and not a "must have." That is to say that if you're low on cash, or you're a starving student, buying your­self a bouquet of flowers might be a little farther down on your list of priorities than say, Krispy Kreme donuts (the real "must have").

So if flowers are not necessarily needed for survival, what is their purpose? They make life more beautiful with their vibrant colors and heady aromas. Perhaps they even remind us of a certain person or a certain place, or they represent an expression of love, sympathy, or encouragement.

In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis writes: "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."

I used to have a hard time enjoying the flowers my husband would bring me. Not because I didn't think they were lovely, and not because I didn't appreciate his thoughtfulness. I had a hard time because I felt it was too extravagant to spend money on something that was just

going to last a few days and then die. So my husband started planting flowers for me outside, flowers that we could keep, grow, and enjoy. Unfortunately, these plants have all died a slow death.

It is somewhat ironic, then, since flowers are not my forte and I am by no means a gardener, that the symbolism I would choose to use in this book is that of a specific flower—the daisy. While there may not be anything growing in my front yard, there are some gorgeous blossoms in my life. The flowers that I love to look at any time of the day or night, the flowers that I love to grow with, nurture, and enjoy, are the daisies that I call my girlfriends.

Daisies sure are cheerful little flowers, aren't they? They seem to show up everywhere ... on hillsides, by streams, in gardens. The generic name for the daisy is actually bellis, which is derived from the Latin for beautiful. Daisies are indeed beautiful, and they are easily recognizable. Likewise, most people have seen or heard of a daisy chain, which is a handful of these cheerful flowers strung together in a row.

When I think of friendships, I think of these daisy chains. I think of friendships as gathering the individual flowers that are in our midst and connecting them to make something even lovelier.

When it comes to friendship, I do not believe that we scatter a few magic beans (like Jack, for his beanstalk) and grow ourselves a circle of friends. We are not the ones who grow friends. God is the Master Gardener. Isaiah 60:21 says, "They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor" (emphasis mine).

So then, what is our responsibility with regard to friendship? I believe that we have the choice to connect with the beauty that God places in our lives. We have the choice to receive the gift of friendship and to invite others to do the same by extending our hearts to them. God invites us into His garden and allows us the opportunity to adorn our lives with a crown of friends.

Friendship is the crown we wear that communicates to God and to the world that we are receiving the love that He has provided for us.

You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord. (Isaiah 62:3 nkjv)

In doing a little research on daisy chains, I stumbled onto a sweet article entitled "How to Make a Daisy Chain." As I read it, I realized that making a crown of daisies is very much like developing a crown of friendships. The author describes this process in verb form—"to daisy chain." I love this because I believe the process of developing and deepening friendships is an action. We are "growing friendships"; they don't just happen to us. We are active participants.

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 Tracy Klehn
Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764204340
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.