Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

Overbearing to Invite?   Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve found myself asking a question about relationships in my day-to-day reaching out to people and inviting them into my life and into my home.  I like to cook, and having people join our family for dinner has always been something I enjoy.  I like to spend time getting to know people.  I like making them feel welcome, that they are important to me, that they are included in our mutual community, whatever that context is.  And this context is what I’m used to.

Despite having been hospitable in this particular way for over twenty-five years, recently it seems that dinner invitations are not as well received as they used to be.

So, I’m asking myself, what’s different?  I find myself wondering if there are new social rules about how to initiate further contact with acquaintances and friends.  If there are new rules, I’m afraid that I don’t know them.

Perhaps there is another way that relationships are supposed to be nurtured in 2016?  Maybe people I know from work or church or kids’ activities are not comfortable being invited to someone’s home?  Am I supposed to meet the other mom at a Starbuck’s first, before I invite the whole family to dinner?

I don’t know and I would like to.  The last thing I want to do is be overbearing when my intent is simply to invite.

How is relationship building supposed to happen now?  Let me hear from you.


Posted July 18, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Once in a Lifetime   Leave a comment

People use this phrase to explain how peak an experience is.  You’ve most likely heard it in association with some sort of dream vacation.  I know I did.  When my husband of five years used it of our trip to Alaska, a place, let’s confess, I hoped to return to at least a couple more times, I was a bit displeased.

On the other hand, he probably meant it was a fantastic trip, filled with memorable sights, beautiful scenery, and far from home.  That for sure was true.

What I hoped wasn’t was the literal meaning–that it would not ever happen again.

So far, it hasn’t for a lot of reasons that would be understandable to most adults: children, work, money, you know how it goes.  You can’t take a trip like that every other year; it’s just not practical.

But here’s the thing.

When you get together with friends, you enjoy it; it makes a nice break in the usual routine.  You laugh, have fun, eat something, drink something, talk.  When you leave, you say, “We’ll do this again,” or in some cases where it’s the final dinner before a friend moves out of state, you say, “Take care of yourself.  I’ll miss you.  Let me know when you’re back in town.”

You are working on the assumption that–all things being equal–you will see those people again, enjoy a beer again, laugh and carry on again.

But you won’t have that particular gathering again.  No matter how many times you see the same group of friends or family, it won’t be the same gathering.  It’s unique and discrete by virtue of time and loss.

It’s once in a lifetime.


Posted July 13, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Unfriending?   1 comment

I’ve been on Facebook for 8 years now and I’d like to know how to trim my friend list without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Does anyone have advice for me?

Honestly, many of the people I friended or approved when they friended me, my intention in cases where I did not know them very well already was that being on Facebook together with them would expand our relationship and allow me to get to know them more personally.

I guess that was naive.  There appears to be no substitute for face-to-face time for building a friendship.  Trying to chat it up with someone on Facebook, by liking the photos they post of their kids, and chiming in when they share a funny status, just doesn’t move the friendship into the new world of intimacy.

I also have figured out that Facebook is not the way extend an invitation.  If I want to actually get together with someone, a phone call would be more efficient.  Planning things on Facebook can stretch out into months.

So how do I get to what I want Facebook to be–that it can realistically be?  I want it to reconnect and keep up with the friends that I have blessedly accumulated over a lifetime (and yes, I have friends there I’ve known since second grade).  I want to stay connected with my current friends, and share photos and updates.  I like it as a forum to share ideas, questions and blog posts.  But that’s really it.

Is there any diplomatic way to unfriend all the random people I know are safe, but who never write me or comment on my statuses?  I want more than a tally of who clicked “approve” out of my time on Facebook.

What to do?


Posted February 17, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Define Friend   Leave a comment

One word in the English language is not descriptive enough: friend.

We have “acquaintance” and “bud.”  We have other words for family members and in-laws.  I suppose some of them are not so complementary, but at least there are specific terms for just about every relation you have.

But for friends there is–friends.

If a person is not just an acquaintance, then she becomes a casual friend.  Then maybe a good friend.

Then a close friend or a dear friend, and after enough years have passed, an old friend.

See the problem?  There aren’t words for the friend herself, only adjectives for clarification.

There really are many distinctions in friendship, but there are no words available in American English with which to make those distinctions.

Colleague? Associate?  That’s business, not friendship.

Chum?  too British; we don’t use it.

Companion?  Too formal.

Cohort, compatriot, comrade?  Too Communist!

Sidekick?  Too cheesy.

Intimate?  Familiar?  In our culture, we generally use those words as adjectives.

There are words for friends, but they aren’t in common usage, and many of those which I’ve sampled above are intended for specific contexts.  I’d like a one word word for a new friend, a casual friend, a long-term friend, a good friend, a childhood friend and a lifetime friend.  There aren’t any words for the amazing range of friendships that exist.

Maybe my soul mates and my best buds can help me out on this topic.




Posted December 28, 2015 by swanatbagend in friendship

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one more try   Leave a comment

When thinking over the past, and musing on more recent efforts to reach out to other people and initiate friendships, I found myself a bit discouraged.

I have found that I have to take the initiative with 90% of the friends that I currently have–checking in with them and making time to get together in person.  Nothing new, that’s the way it has worked throughout my life.  All I have to do is remember that’s how it has always been.  To get enough people time, I make the phone call 90% of the time.

I’m used to that.

I guess I’m less fine with the amount of effort it takes to initiate with new people, because in that arena it’s pretty much 100% me.

And that makes me wonder if it’s worth the effort.  Perhaps my effort to reach out to people outside my usual circle just isn’t needed.

But here’s something God gave me as I was thinking about this.

Over the past twenty-five years, I have had people who reached out to me.  I can see these women’s faces right now.  They took the time to make friends.  I reciprocated and over time, close friendships developed–some within weeks or months.  In a couple of cases, these women were literally praying for a friend, and then I came along.

But what if?

What if these women had been reaching out before they met me, over and over again, and for a long time there wasn’t any particular response?  What if I wasn’t the first person they initiated with?

What if each one of them had stopped before they ever got to me?



Not going to stop reaching out.


Posted November 25, 2015 by swanatbagend in friendship

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That’s What Friends Do   1 comment

We’ve really never done trick or treating.  We live in the country and never get trick or treaters, and being homeschooled we aren’t in the mainstream where other kids are talking about costumes and candy all the time.  Plus, I really did not want to get into it with my youngest being extremely susceptible to the effects of food coloring, high fructose corn syrup and too much sugar!

Not to mention the work of creating costumes–blah.

However, this year friends asked us to join them at Ridgecrest Avenue to see the amazing decorations, and my son had been doing much better dealing with the ingestion of sweets.  Despite his general dislike of being around people he doesn’t know, the draw of cool decorations and candy was too appealing–so I told the kids if they were entirely responsible for their own costumes, they could go. I would drive them there and walk up and down with them to see the sights and mingle with the throng.

Large crowds, uncontrolled situations, and Halloween have never been my cup of tea, so this was definitely putting myself out there.

The night of Halloween all started off well.  The kids had their costumes taken care of and when we arrived in the neighborhood we had no trouble finding a parking place. Waiting for our friends to arrive, those who were already there talked and laughed.

Once all gathered, smallers corralled in strollers, we made our way to the desired thoroughfare.

It was jammed with people.

So far so good–but then my son discovered the classic problem with a ghost costume (one that I had not thought to check for, since after all, the costumes were not my problem): eye hole size creates visibility problems.

Avoided a face plant but he did fall down when he tripped over sidewalk stairs he couldn’t see.

He’s back at my side after getting the candy, and somewhat tearfully says, “I think I’m done, Mom. I can’t do this.”

Internally I’m sighing and cringing, thinking, “Please Lord, let my child on the autism spectrum have a normal, positive, standard childhood experience,” while not at all sure there is a way for that to happen.

However, I have an idea that we can hold the sheet back so the eye holes are easier to see out of, with the same masking tape that has already repaired a shattered sword for one of our friends.

And, friends to the rescue.   Mom of six has, among other things, scissors and a safety pin with her…thank you Lord.

I tell my son, “I have an idea for how to modify your costume, so you can see out better.  Can I try that?”

“OK,” he accedes, and I pull the sheet off briskly, and proceed to cut the eye holes larger.  My son is ill at ease at first, as he notices that he is delaying his sister and four other children.

But, thank you Lord again, my friend tells him, “It’s all right; this is no problem.  They’ll wait for you.  That’s what friends do.”

Eye holes widened, the costume is re-applied to his head, and we safety pin it back.

“How does that seem?”


“You want to try it?  I’ll be right behind you to start out with.”

Off he goes, reassured, with his sister and friends.

They walked the entire circuit, up Ridgecrest and all the way back, and my son kept his ghost costume on until maybe the last 1/5th of the journey.  He had a wonderful time, collected a delightful amount of candy, and was so pleased with his experience and all the creepy or funny decorations.

Who knew something so blessed, friendship, could shine so brightly on a dark night?

Relationally Apathetic?   3 comments

I’ve lived in 11 different cities or towns in 9 different states.  I have moved around a lot in 48 years, less than some people, but enough to develop sufficient social skills to make friends wherever I go.  At least so said some friends of ours from one of our old churches when the subject of how I interact came up.  I was glad to hear that was their perception of me, ’cause that is what I like to do.

I lived in one town between the years 1994 and 2006, and what I’m wondering is this.

Did our culture irretrievably change during that time period, so that making friends became ten times more difficult when I moved nine years ago, or did I just move to the most relationally apathetic place I have ever lived?

Which is it?  both/and?

I know people are busy.  I know, because I’m busy too.  My children aren’t inundated with activities but when you add together homeschooling, doing the planning for that, doctor and therapy appointments, vacations, family events, each person only has so much energy.  Then there are church commitments if you’re part of a faith community.  I appreciate that our church keeps those to a minimum, where you can wisely allocate your time to meaningful ministry, outreach, living, without getting bogged down in obligations just to keep a program running.

Busy is understandable.  We’ve all been there.

I suppose it could be true that I just need to revamp my own priorities and try harder.

Possibly, and I’m processing this one, I need to consciously decide to invest less time on the things I do on the internet, and redirect that toward contacting friends another way and spending time with people in person.

And, I am thankful for the gems we get to spend time with (many of them those very hardworking, busy women I referenced in my recent blog post “A Day with a Friend?”).  Our family has been blessed with several lovely families whose company we have really enjoyed for many of the past nine years.

I just haven’t figured out why, despite making continued efforts to develop friendships, my efforts haven’t borne the fruit I expected, nor the fruit that an equivalent amount of effort elsewhere, in the past, would have done.  It seems as if what used to work doesn’t work any more, and I find myself wondering if there’s been a new class in Friendmaking 101 that I have completely missed.

Have you had this experience?  Please share your thoughts.

Posted October 21, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, friendship

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A Day with a Friend?   Leave a comment

It’s not that I have no friends.  Sure, I don’t have as many as I would like to, I guess because in my mind, I’m still living in junior high, where I had friendships with most everyone in my class of a hundred.  Apparently, that’s my model of what day-to-day life with friends should be.

Obviously, that is a bit out of date now that I’m pushing 50.

But I do have friends.

I have quite a few friends that I keep up with through social media, and a few less that I see every three to six months for dinner or dessert, to get caught up.  I have fewer friends that come to my house and sit and chat on the porch.  I have a couple of friends I get together with for longer visits, with my children and theirs.

Those are the relationships, the whole family friendships, that I really treasure.  They are jewels.

I know some of the reasons time spent with these friends doesn’t happen as much as I or they would like.

We have reasons like these: Homeschooling

Children’s activities


Chronic health problems and low energy

Five kids and counting

Doctor’s appointments


You know what I mean?

I used to have time to spend a full day with a friend.

When our oldests were little, my closest friend and I would spend the day together about every month. We lived an hour apart, even then, but we enjoyed our time together enough that we’d book those days on our calendars and look forward to them, almost better than chocolate.  My son and I would get up, eat breakfast, dress, load our bag for the trip over and head out.  We’d come back barely in time to put dinner together before Dad got home.

The time would fly by.  We talked, took the kids for walks, took them outside to play, threw lunch together, dealt with needs, tried putting the kids down for naps, laughed, schemed, punned, and just generally had a good time.  (Wendy, please forgive me for being unwilling to get together on Mondays in those days.  🙂  I hope you know you really are more important to me than catching up on my laundry.)

I know I thought my life was full and busy then, but I hadn’t seen anything yet.

Now that I have more kids, I love the friends as much as ever, but apparently, I don’t have as many minutes in a day.

Posted September 30, 2015 by swanatbagend in community, friendship

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